Archive for Whoopi Goldberg

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

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.

Ghost

Posted in Chick Flicks, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze), a banker, and Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), a potter, are a couple who renovate and move into an apartment in New York City with the help of Sam’s friend and co-worker Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn). One afternoon, Sam discovers unusually high balances in obscure bank accounts, but despite Carl’s offer to help investigate, Sam decides to investigate on his own. That night while walking home together Sam and Molly are mugged by a street thug who pulls a gun and demand’s Sam’s wallet. Sam struggles with the attacker and is shot. After pursuing the street thug, Sam runs back to Molly and – seeing her crying over his dead body – discovers that he has died from the gunshot and has become a ghost. Sam stays by the distraught Molly, trying to come to grips with his new condition, when Carl comes over and suggests Molly take a walk with him. Sam cannot bring himself to follow.

Moments later, the mugger enters the empty apartment and commences searching for something. When Molly returns, Sam scares their cat into attacking the thug, who flees. Sam follows the mugger to his apartment in Brooklyn and learns that the man’s name is Willie Lopez and that Willie intends to return later to continue the search.

While walking back to the apartment, Sam happens upon the parlor of Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a con artist posing as a medium. But when she can hear Sam, she realizes she has an actual gift. He convinces her of the danger that Molly is in and that Oda must warn her. Molly is skeptical about Oda until Oda relays information that only Sam could know.

After Molly tells Carl about Oda Mae, Carl – unaware that Sam is following – then goes to Willie’s apartment. There, to Sam’s surprise, he finds that Carl and Willie are working together, that Carl had a hand in Sam’s death, and that he had needed to obtain Sam’s book of passwords in order to access and launder the excess money from the bank accounts. Under instructions relayed from Sam to Oda Mae, Molly goes to the police with Willie’s name and address, but they find no criminal record of him – instead they show her Oda Mae’s record and convince her that she’s a con artist.

Meeting a violent poltergeist in their ghostly realm, Sam learns from him how to manipulate physical objects from within the spirit realm. Sam then approaches Oda Mae and asks her not only to withdraw the money in the fake name that Carl had set up but then to give that $4 million to charity. Sam tries to scare Carl away from Molly but she reveals to Carl that Oda Mae was at the bank withdrawing the money. Sam then prevents Oda Mae from being attacked by Willie, terrorizing the thug and then sending him into oncoming traffic where Willie is hit by a car and killed. As Willie’s ghost is grabbed by creatures from the shadows that drag him to Hell, Sam and Oda Mae return to the apartment where – by levitating a penny into Molly’s hand – he convinces Molly that Oda Mae is telling the truth about him.

Oda Mae allows Sam to possess her body so he and Molly can share a slow dance, but Carl interrupts them and Molly and Oda Mae flee onto the fire escape. Carl chases the women to a loft under construction and catches Oda Mae. When Molly comes to save her, she is grabbed and held hostage. Sam disarms Carl and chases him toward a window. He throws a suspended hook at Sam; it misses, swings back, and shatters the glass. As Carl tries to climb through the window a sharp shard of broken glass falls, impaling him through the chest. Carl’s ghost rises from his body and, as Willie had been, he is grabbed by the creatures from the shadows and is carried to Hell.

Sam asks if the women are all right. Miraculously, Molly can now hear him. A heavenly light shines in the room, illuminating Sam in sight of both of them. Realizing that it is his time to go, he and Molly share tearful goodbyes. Oda Mae tells him that he is being called home, and he thanks her for her help.

Sam then walks into the light and onward to Heaven.

REVIEW:

Considered one the quintessential romantic films of all time, Ghost is a film that I just have not seen all the way through, up to this point in time. Will I be impressed or lose respect for the parts of the film that I have seen of this flick? Only one way to find out!

What is this about?

Gothamites Sam and Molly see their romance shattered when a street thug kills Sam during a mugging. But love endures beyond the grave when a spectral Sam learns that Molly is in danger, and he must find a way to warn her before she suffers his fate.

What did I like?

True love. So many times, we see couples on film that seem as if they have never laid eyes on each other before the cameras started rolling. They have little to no chemistry at all. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, however, seem to have been in love since the dawn of time. Their romance is red hot on the screen. I don’t know if anything went on with these two off camera, but on camera they shared a love for the ages.

Supernatural. No, this isn’t your typical ghost film, so there isn’t a whole lot of lore to be seen and heard here. That being said, what we do get is pretty special, especially for a chick flick drama! Seeing Swayze wander around trying to communicate with the living was something I enjoyed and it kept my interest more than the embezzling money plot did.

Tone. In today’s cinematic world, this would be a dark and “scary” film, probably meant to be part of some shared universe, because studios think that’s the only way to make money. While this is most definitely a product of the early 90s, the tone cannot be more perfect. The drama and love story are offset by the light-hearted ghost scenes and Whoopi Goldberg’s comic relief, and that is offset by the overarching murder/money plot. Everything compliments each other and it works like a grand symphony!

What didn’t I like?

Drag me to hell. I wasn’t expecting anything on the level of Ghostbusters when it comes to the special effects of this film, but the look of the recently deceased going up or down did nothing for me. I say this more for those that were going down. The demons, if that’s what they were, looked more like cartoon shadows instead of something that was meant to incite fear. Again, given the nature of the film, this is understandable to a point, but surely they could have shelled out a few more $$$ to get something more frightening and evil looking for the bad guy, for lack of a better term.

BFF. Heaven forbid I pass away and my significant other is left alone. Should this happen, I suppose I can take solace in the fact that my bff is a married woman, rather than a slimey, good for nothing, backstabber. Swayze’s best friend is obviously doing his best to keep her Demi Moore from falling into a sever bout of depression or something along those lines, but hitting on her? I think this happened not even a week after the funeral! WTF?!?

Other ghosts. As we see in Whoopi’s..um…place of business? and on the subway, there are other ghosts running around. Here’s my questions about them, though. Do they not see the new guy? Are they just hiding? Why are they here? Maybe I’m asking too many questions for a simple film such as this, but it does make one wonder, regardless.

Final verdict on Ghost? I liked it and can see why it is held is such high regard, but I didn’t love it. For me, it was bit too much on the sappy side and pretty much blew its load with the pottery scene very early in the film. All that aside, I belive this to be a well made picture. Most of the characters are well thought out and their motivations are made clear. I wish something could be done with the antagonist plot, though. Do I recommend it? Sure, why not, this is one of those date movies that women love to force their men to watch, so suck it up gentlemen and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

April O’Neil (Megan Fox), a reporter for Channel 6 Eyewitness News in New York City, investigates a crime wave by criminals called the Foot Clan. At a dock at night, she sees the Foot raiding cargo containers. After an unseen vigilante attacks the thieves, April notices a symbol left behind. April’s supervisor Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg) and her coworkers are oblivious to her story. Later while covering a charity event thrown by Sacks Industries, April expresses gratitude to the company’s CEO Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who was her late father’s (Paul Fitzgerald) lab partner.

Frustrated by the vigilante, the Foot Clan’s leader Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) has the Foot Soldiers take hostages at a subway station in order to draw him out. April, at the scene, becomes a hostage herself. Four mysterious figures arrive, take out the Clan, and free the hostages. April follows them to a rooftop and is confronted by four anthropomorphic mutant turtles, causing her to pass out. When she regains consciousness, they advise her not to tell anyone of them. As they leave, April hears Raphael (Alan Ritchson) and Leonardo’s (Pete Ploszek and Johnny Knoxville) names.

April returns to her apartment and remembers “Project Renaissance”, her father’s science experiment, which involved four turtles named Leonardo, Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Michaelangelo (Noel Fisher), Raphael, and a rat called Splinter (Danny Woodburn and Tony Shalhoub). Unable to convince Bernadette of the Turtles’ existence, April is dismissed. Her coworker Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) drives her to Sacks’ estate where she confides in him about her discovery. Sacks believes her and reveals that he and April’s father had been experimenting on a mutagen created to cure disease, which was thought lost in the fire that killed her dad.

At Splinter’s behest, the Turtles bring April to their sewer lair. Splinter explains April had saved them all from the fire and freed them into the sewers. The mutagen caused the five of them to grow and develop humanoid attributes. Splinter took on the role of their father, using April’s father as an example. After finding a book on Ninjitsu in a storm drain, he proceeded to teach himself, then the Turtles, in the fighting style. When April reveals she told Sacks about her discovery of the Turtles, Splinter informs her that Sacks betrayed her father and killed him.

Then, Shredder and the Foot Soldiers attack the lair, defeating Splinter and incapacitating Raphael while the other Turtles are captured. April comes out of hiding and she and Raphael plan to save the others. At Sacks’ estate, he has the Turtles’ blood drained in order to create an antidote to a deadly virus that Sacks hopes to flood New York with, believing he will become rich from people seeking his cure. Raphael, April, and Vern storm the estate and free the other Turtles. The group then escapes the compound in pursuit of Sacks.

On a radio tower in the city, Sacks and Shredder plant a device that will flood the city with the virus. April and Vern subdue Sacks in the lab, while the Turtles fight Shredder on the roof. During the fight, the tower’s support beams collapse. As the turtles try to keep it from falling and infecting the city, April confronts Shredder with the mutagen. In the struggle, the tower collapses and the Turtles pull April onto it with them, while Shredder falls to the street and is confronted by police. Believing they are about to die, the Turtles confess their secrets, while Raphael gives an impassioned speech of his love for his brothers before they land harmlessly on the street. They vanish before the humans find them and return to the sewers, where they give Splinter the mutagen and he begins to recover.

Sometime later, April meets with Vern, who tries and fails to ask her on a date. The Turtles appear in a special modified “Turtle Van”, and Michelangelo accidentally blows up Vern’s new car with a rocket. As police respond to the explosion, the Turtles leave, but not before Michelangelo tries to serenade April with “Happy Together”.

REVIEW:

Like every other kid from the 80s and 90s, I have watched slowly as my childhood has gone from awesome to obscure to blockbuster film franchise. Just as the Transformers would not be recognizable to my 8 yr old self, I doubt that the turtle would be either, at least from what I saw in the trailers. Does Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live up to its legacy, or is this just another big movie that is reliant more on the built-in fan base money rather than being an actually good film?

What is this about?

Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil and her cameraman Vernon Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.

What did I like?

Family. Like many fans of the Turtles, I was introduced to them via the Saturday morning cartoon in the 80s. From what I recall, it was never said that they were brothers, but the toys mentioned their family bond. I want to say that the family thing was there in the original comics, but I don’t know. I applaud the filmmakers from bringing the family back together, rather than just making them four random amphibians and a rat in the sewer.

Personality. Each of the turtles has long been known to have a distinct personality. Leonardo is the no-nonsense leader, Raphael is a hot head, Donatello is the nerd, and Michaelangelo is the skater dude. These personality traits were maintained in the film and made for a much more entertaining flick. Much like the Transformers, their personalities are a part of what distinguishes them from each other, but also endeared them to fans. Wise choice including that in here, rather than make 4 drones, which was probably the initial idea.

Action. Let’s see…a movie about ninjas in New York City that happened to be based on a cartoon/comic, so one is watching this expecting long, dramatic speeches and such, right? If you are, then I’m seriously questioning humanity. This is a picture that is all about the action, from bad-ass ninja moves to daredevil antics, and of course pizza! It is like someone actually listened to what the fans wanted, as opposed to just making a movie that no one involved had any passion or connection to growing up.

What didn’t I like?

April sours. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of April O’Neil as hot. Attractive, cute, girl next door…yes. Hot, no. So, you can imagine that I was among the multitude of fans displeased with Megan Fox being cast in this role. I think we all know she was cast for her look and not talent (or lack thereof). I would say she did bad, but truthfully, she wasn’t given anything to do. My issue is more with the change they made. Apparently, according to this film, the turtles were April’s pets, not Splinter’s, and she named them. In other words, someone didn’t like the origin the way it was and felt it needed to be changed.

Return of the Super Shredder? I was excited to see what Shredder would look like. The 90s films made him look pretty close to what one would expect…sort of. That excitement quickly went away when he showed up looking like a rejected Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. I don’t know what was up with the weird wings he seemed to have protruding from his hands, either. They seems to be used as blades, but the design didn’t work for me. Basically, this new Shredder seems to be a shiny upgraded version of Super Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze, and not in a good way.

Design. While on the topic of design, let’s talk turtles, shall we. Before this movie came out, I started seeing the toys. In action figure form, they aren’t as bad. However, when you have them side by side with the toys from the current animated series, they look as frightening as they do in person. Yes, I said frightening. I can imagine being a little kid and seeing these giant creatures on the screen and, while they are the good guys, they are still terrifying. Who thought it would be a good idea to make them look like that? Probably the same person that thought Transformers need to have all kinds of whirly gadgets on them, rather than what they have looked like from the beginning, I would imagine. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got it right. 4 guys in rubber suits. Today, just update the technology and its perfect. No kids are scared, more toys are sold, etc. Before I leave this design topic, the size differential bothered me. Raphael was huge! We’re talking roided up football player huge. What was the purpose of that?

I did my best to keep an open mind about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I really did, but there are just some things that couldn’t be ignored. That said, I see potential here for bigger and better things. The writers did take the time to keep much of what fans have come to know ad love about the turtles in place, and that goes a long way. I believe the sequel is going even further with that by bringing in Bebop and Rocksteady, two of the turtles’ biggest adversaries. I’m almost excited to see that. My biggest issue with this film is that things were changed for change sake, and William Fichtner’s character didn’t serve as big a purpose as we were led to believe. Still, I did have fun watching this film, much more than I had any right to, and wouldn’t mind watching it again sometime down the road. Do I recommend it? No, the 90s films are better and feel more like care was put into them, as opposed to this one which just feels like a giant cash grab.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Eddie

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The New York Knicks are also-rans in the NBA, their roster filled with players who either lack talent or are too distracted by off-the-court issues. Nonetheless, limousine driver and rabid fan Edwina “Eddie” Franklin (Whoopi Goldberg) attends every Knicks game in the nosebleed section of Madison Square Garden.

During halftime of a game, Eddie wins a contest to be honorary coach of the Knicks for the second half. She quickly gets on the nerves of head coach John Bailey (Dennis Farina), whom she had heckled earlier. Eddie’s popularity piques the interest of the new Knicks owner, “Wild Bill” Burgess (Frank Langella). After he forces Bailey to quit, Burgess names Eddie the new head coach.

At first, she is treated with skepticism and derision. However, she understands that the Knicks have the talent to win, but the players’ individual problems have caused the team to underperform. Russian center Ivan Radmonovich focuses only on scoring, and his lack of defensive technique leads him to frequently commit unnecessary blocking fouls. Superstar forward Stacey Patton’s me-first approach causes him to force low percentage shots because he is unwilling to pass, and his poor attitude hurts the team’s morale. At a pivotal moment in practice, Eddie earns the team’s respect by taking a hard foul from Patton in order to demonstrate proper defense to Ivan. Eddie also begins to bench Patton in favor of veteran Nate Wilson, who was generally considered washed up because of chronic knee injuries. Wilson experiences a late career resurgence, the Knicks begin to win, and New York embraces the team and Eddie’s colorful personality.

The team’s winning streak eclipses their abysmal start, and as the season winds down, the Knicks are within reach of the playoffs. In order to qualify, they will need to beat the Charlotte Hornets, now coached by John Bailey, in the last game of the season.

The night before the game, Burgess tells Eddie that if the Knicks win, he will sell the team to a group that intends to relocate the team to St. Louis, Missouri (this is a veiled reference to Georgia Frontiere’s similar move of the Los Angeles Rams to St. Louis upon her assumption of the Rams ownership in 1995). A conflicted Eddie doesn’t show to the game until right before tip-off.

During the game, Hornets forward Larry Johnson proves difficult to contain, but strong play from Wilson keeps the score close. Bailey responds by telling Johnson to foul Wilson hard in the hopes of knocking him out of the game. Johnson makes an unsuccessful attempt right before halftime: Wilson is hurt, but he is able to hit both foul shots and continue playing. In the fourth quarter, however, Johnson blows out Wilson’s knee, forcing him out of the game. Stacey Patton enters the game and shows a new team-first attitude, particularly on the Knicks’ last offensive possession. Eddie begins to diagram a play to get Patton the ball for a final shot, but assistant coach Carl Zimmer instead suggests that Bailey, remembering Patton’s tendency to force low percentage shots, will swarm him with defenders. The Knicks instead inbound to Patton, who passes to an open teammate after three defenders come to him. The Knicks take a one point lead with seconds left in the game.

Now, with the Knicks on the cusp of winning, Eddie realizes that a victory will cause the team to be relocated to St. Louis. She decides to get on the Garden’s PA system and reveal the entire plan to the world. The fans react with shock and anger, and a frustrated Burgess is forced to promise the crowd he won’t sell the team or move them out of New York City.

When play resumes, the Hornets have one last chance to win. Bailey tells his team to get the ball to Johnson and have him drive the lane, expecting Ivan to commit a blocking foul. Instead, Ivan remains set in his defensive position and Johnson is called for charging, which nullifies the basket, giving the Knicks the win and the playoff berth.

The film ends without explaining what happens to the Knicks in the playoffs that year.

REVIEW:

With all this talk about the New York Knicks and “Linsanity”, I figured why not watch a basketball movie, one that just happens to feature the Knicks, as a matter of fact. This is how I happened across the obscure “gem” that isEddie.

Some people may not remember the time when Whoopi wasn’t one of those chatty ____ on The View, but it wasn’t that terribly long ago that she was an actress and comedienne. If you need further proof of her talents, then this, while not her best work, would be a good example of what she is capable of doing.

So, what exactly is the point of a film like Eddie? Well, the struggling New York Knicks have a just been bought by a Texas millionaire who wants them to become more relevant and entertaining. Upon his arrival to New York, he is taken to his hotel by limo driver Eddie, unbeknownst to her. At a game that day, he spots (or should I say hears) her and sees to it that she is entered in the coach for a day contest.

The current coach is none too happy about this, especially when it appears that the fans are more behind her than him or the team. The new owner also takes notice and sees to it that she is brought back, which infuriates the coach so much that he quits, which makes her the de facto coach. The team isn’t exactly thrilled about this, but given the fact that they want to get paid, they go ahead and play, but not without typical athlete diva antics.

I think you can guess what happens from here on out, right? The players warm up to the coach, start winning, and the film ends with a climactic confrontation with the previous coach. There’s some other stuff thrown in there, as well, though, such as the benching of the star player in favor of the grizzled veteran who ignites the team in the process, the owner trying to see the team to St. Louis, etc.

I actually liked this story. Who doesn’t dream of taking over their favorite team and doing a better job than the current coach. Trust me, with some of the team I like, there have been som pretty lean years, but they’re all doing fine now. Although, I still wouldn’t mind sitting on the bench of my San Antonio Spurs, or just being the locker room of my Dallas Cowboys!

I will say, though, that there is there are a few things that seem out of place. First, there is the scene where Eddie is coaching a kids team. Nothing wrong with this, but it seemed like they just used it as filler and a way to make a point about a player should concentrate more on their academics than sports.

Also, it is quite obvious that there is some kind of attraction between Eddie and Nate, but it is never addressed. I realize it would be weird and all, but it just seemed as if this would have been a nice direction to veer off into and make for an even more impressive climax.

Lastly, usually in films like this, we find out what happens to the team, or at least the players, but not this time. I’m curious to know if they made it to the playoffs, what happened to everyone, and did the team eventually get sold after all. It kind of defeats the purpose of a sports movie to not let us know what happens, y’know?

Being a basketball movie, you know there are a ton of cameos by NBA players. I won’t sit here and name them all, but the ones that aren’t cameos actually do have some acting chops. You may be surprised, but don’t expect anything to blow you out of the water, obviously.

Aside from the great performance by Whoopi Goldberg, we get a great (albeit mostly silent) turn from Richard Jenkins as the assistant coach. He does seem to come alive in the last few scenes, though.

Frank Langella really plays a character as Wild Bill. This is not a Langella type performance, as most of the characters I’ve seen him play are the quiet, intimidating type, so for him to play a loud, bombastic, rambunctious one is quite the departure from the norm, but not a bad one.

In conclusion, Eddie is actually a pretty good film, but this is not one you should watch if you want to see some basketball. Hoosiers would probably be more your choice if you’re looking for a true basketball film. For those looking for a fairly clean comedy that just happens to have some basketball in it, then this is the one for you. Give this underrated film a shot, why don’t you? I highly recommend it!

4 out of 5 stars

 

Farce of the Penguins

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Samuel L. Jackson narrates the story about a group of male penguins that make a 70 mile trek to go to their breeding grounds where females are waiting to have sex with them. These penguins include Carl (Bob Saget) and Jimmy (Lewis Black), two friends who talk about relationships and other things as they meet new characters including Marcus (Tracy Morgan), a penguin who likes to kid around and brag about his huge penis (an illogical point, since penguins do not have penises and instead have cloacas), and Steve the snowy owl (Jonathan Katz), who gives Carl advice on his life in a Freudian kind of way while billing him for the two quick sessions. Meanwhile Melissa (Christina Applegate) and Vicky (Mo’Nique) argue about men and other women who bother them as they wait for their mates to arrive to the breeding grounds.

REVIEW:

I don’t really know where to start on this review of Farce of the Penguins. The title pretty much says it all. This is nothing more than farce/parody of March of the Penguins.

I’ve seen previews for this film in many of the DVDs I’ve been watching lately and finally just broke down and decided to check it out, especially since I was in the mood for a good laugh. The problem is, this film doesn’t really deliver as many as you would think.

Maybe it’s just me, but if something has farce in the title, then I expect there to actually be comedy. This film does not deliver on that front, but rather is just a slightly amusing version of March of the Penguins, only with celebrity voicings of the penguins and not just a documentary.

The good parts of the film include the all-star voice cast (Bob Saget, Lewis Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Christina Applegate, Samuel L. Jackson, etc.) and the fact that this film never really takes itself seriously.

On the negative side of things, you can only listen to some neurotic rambling for so long before it just gets annoying, and for me, that’s all this ended up being. This could have very well been a romantic comedy script adapted to penguins.

Is this worth viewing? Well, let’s just say there is a reason that this was releases direct to DVD. Does that mean it’s bad? No, but at the same time it’s not that great. It’s worth a viewing if you’re into these type of films, but otherwise, my suggestion is to just find something better.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Lion King

Posted in Animation, Classics, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Lion King takes place in the Pride Lands, where a lion rules over the other animals as king. Rafiki (Robert Guillaume), a mandrill, anoints Simba (cub by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, adult by Matthew Broderick), the newborn cub of King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Sarabi (Madge Sinclair), and presents him to a gathering of animals at Pride Rock.

Mufasa takes Simba around the Pride Lands, teaching him about the “Circle of Life”, the delicate balance affecting all living things. Simba’s uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons), who desires the throne for himself, tells him about the elephant graveyard, a place where Mufasa has warned  Simba not to go. Simba asks his mother if he can go to the water-hole with his best friend, Nala (cub by Niketa Calame, adult by Moira Kelly). Their parents agree but only if Mufasa’s majordomo, the hornbill Zazu (Rowan Atkinson), goes with them. Simba and Nala elude Zazu’s supervision and go to the graveyard instead. There, the cubs are met by Shenzi, Banzai and Ed (Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings), spotted hyenas who try to kill them, but they are rescued by Mufasa.

Meanwhile, Scar gains the loyalty of the hyenas by claiming that if he becomes king, they’ll “never go hungry again”. Scar tells the hyenas to kill Mufasa and Simba, thus establishing his plan of regicide. Some time later, Scar lures Simba into a gorge while the hyenas create a wildebeest stampede. Alerted by Scar, Mufasa races to rescue Simba from the stampede. He saves his son but is left clinging to the edge of a cliff, which results in Scar flinging him into the stampede below. Scar convinces Simba that he (Simba) was responsible for his father’s death and tells him to flee from the Pride Lands. Scar once again sends Shenzi, Banzai and Ed to kill Simba, but he escapes. Scar informs the pride that both Mufasa and Simba were killed and that he is assuming the throne as the next in line.

Simba is found unconscious by Timon and Pumbaa (Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella), a meerkat-warthog duo who adopt and raise the cub. When Simba has grown into an adult he is discovered by Nala, who tells him that Scar has turned the Pride Lands into a barren wasteland. She asks Simba to return and take his place as king but Simba refuses. Simba shows Nala around his home and the two begin to fall in love. Rafiki arrives and persuades Simba to return to the Pride Lands, aided by Mufasa’s presence in the stars.

Once back at Pride Rock, Simba (with Timon, Pumbaa and Nala) is horrified to see the condition of the Pride Lands. After seeing Scar strike his mother, Simba announces his return. In response, Scar tells the pride that Simba was responsible for Mufasa’s death and corners Simba at the edge of Pride Rock. As Simba dangles over the edge of Pride Rock, Scar whispers to Simba that he killed Mufasa. Enraged, Simba leaps up and pins Scar to the ground, forcing him to admit the truth to the pride. A raging battle then ensures between the hyenas and the lionesses which results in Simba cornering Scar. Begging for mercy, Scar blames the hyenas for Mufasa’s death, but Simba orders Scar to go into exile. Scar pretends to leave but turns to attack Simba, resulting in a final duel. Simba triumphs over his uncle by flipping him over a low cliff. Scar survives the fall but finds himself surrounded by the now-resentful hyenas, who attack and devour him. The film concludes with the Pride Lands turning green with life again and Rafiki presenting Simba and Nala’s newborn cub.

REVIEW:

First of all forget the sequel and prequel, they just skewer the legacy of this great picture. Second, it is important to remember that not much effort was put into The Lion King. They thought that Pocahontas was going to be the bigger and better hit. Boy were they wrong!

As with most Disney films, this is loosely based on a piece of literary work. Originally, I thought this was a total orignal idea, but it turns out that it was loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I found that quite interesting.

The voice casting here is terrific, though many have been critical of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick being cast as Simba, moreso Thomas, instead of African-American actors. I suppose there could be a point to that, but only if you really grasp at straws to find it.

Who else could voice the regal Mufasa than the booming voice of James Earl Jones? The man is so perfect for this that it almost seems like it was written with him in mind. Strangely enough, though, Jones always seems to be married to Madge Sinclair whenever they are in the same movie. Sinclair does a good job of bringing grace and elegance to Sarabi, Simba’s mother.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas fits young Simba perfectly with his youthfully exuberant voice, and the transition to Matthew Broderick as adult Simba really works. Broderick is no Jones, and contrary to popular belief Simba is no Mufasa, and that’s the way it should be.

Jeremy Irons is another perfectly cast character. He already has a villainous voice, and uses it to its full potential as the conniving Scar.

Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin are excellent comic relief as the hyenas, while Nathan Lane, who has this film to thank for his mainstream career, and Ernie Sabella provide two of the most memorable characters in the picture, Timon and Pumbaa.

Musically, it is obvious that Tim Rice is without the late Alan Menken, but collaborating with Elton John, he still comes up with some memorable songs. My personal favorite is “Be Prepeared”…or is it “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”? As far as the score goes, Hans Zimmer does what he does best, and captures the true essence of the film through the use of various instruments in the orchestra, as well as experimenting here and there.

One of the saddest moments in all of cinema happens when Mufasa is killed. What makes it worse is that young Simba has to see it. The realistic feel of that is what makes it so heartbreaking. There are no magic spells, or pixies, or anything like that to bring him back to life, the king is dead. The moment is reminiscent of when Bambi’s mother gets shot.

There was a time when it seemed Disney could do no wrong when it came to animated features. Unfortunately, after The Lion King, those days seemed to have ended. Hopefully, with the upcoming release of The Princess and the Frog, they’ll have a Renaissance of sorts. In the meantime, we can always pop in the DVD, VHS, Blu-Ray, or download classics such as these that are true gems.

5 out of 5 stars

Monkeybone

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser) is a disillusioned cartoonist whose comic strip features a rascal monkey named Monkeybone. Stu is in love with a sleep institute worker named Dr. Julie McElroy (Bridget Fonda), who helped him deal with his terrible nightmares by changing the hand that he drew with. On the night when he is going to propose to her, Stu gets into a car accident and falls into a coma.

His spirit ends up in Downtown: a purgatory limbo-like carnival landscape populated by human beings, mythical creatures and figments of people’s imaginations where nightmares are entertainment. In Downtown, Monkeybone (voiced by John Turturro) is real. When Stu learns that his sister Kimmy (Megan Mullally) is about to pull the plug on him, he asks Hypnos: The God of Sleep (Giancarlo Esposito) what to do. Hypnos tells Stu that to get back to the living, he has to steal an Exit Pass from Death (Whoopi Goldberg). Stu successfully steals an Exit Pass, but Monkeybone steals it from him in turn and enters the Land of the Living in Stu’s body through the Revive-O.

Hypnos plans to use Stu’s body to get a substance that Dr. Julie McElroy developed that gives people and animals nightmares. Monkeybone (in Stu’s body) obtains the substance and puts it inside stuffed monkey toys of himself (Monkeybone) so that those who touch them will be infected and given nightmares. Meanwhile Stu reveals Hypnos’ plan to Death and convinces her to send him back for only an hour, only to find himself in the body of a dead athlete organ donor (Chris Kattan). As he flees the morgue attendants, Stu finds out about Monkeybone’s and Hypnos’ planned party and heads there with the extractors still in pursuit. At the party, Stu’s agent Herb (Dave Foley) exposes himself to the Nightmare Juice in the Monkeybone doll and ends up seeing in the mirror that his clothes are coming to life. This causes Herb to run through the party naked telling everyone that the clothes have come to life and turned evil. After that, Monkeybone in Stu’s body tells everyone to forget about it as he brings down the Monkeybone pinata containing the Monkeybone Dolls. Stu uses Monkeybone’s main characteristics from the comics to cause him to panic and escape. A chase ensues, culminating with Stu and Monkeybone battling each other while clinging to a giant Monkeybone balloon. The balloon is eventually shot down by a passing policeman and both Stu and Monkeybone fall to their deaths.

Back in Downtown, Stu and Monkeybone are falling toward Downtown where the residents cheer on their fight. Just then, all the rides stop and a giant robot emerges near the Revive-O causing everyone to flee the area. When Stu and Monkeybone are caught by it, the operator of the robot is revealed to be Death who seems quite cheerful despite the circumstances. Monkeybone tries to have Death let him go to the bathroom, but Death places Monkeybone back in Stu’s head which is back where he belongs. Death then tells Stu that she’ll send him back because she likes his comic strips and doesn’t want them to stop just now and because she needs to make room for the guys from South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. She then uses her robot to send Stu back to the living as he wakes up in his own body. Stu then proposes to Julie and they get married.

REVIEW:

This film sort of feels like a mixture of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Cool World, but instead of cartoons, they use stop motion animation. The plot sort of mixes the two films together, if yo think about it. We have the token guy who somehow ends up in the animated world (even though it’s not fully animated), gets tricked into letting someone escape into the real world, someone falls in love with him on the other side, etc. Elements, of your mixed medium films.

Brendan Fraser is quite impressive here. Stu is the typical loser Fraser that we’ve seen in so many of his movies, but when Monkeybone takes over his body, he has to actually act like a monkey, even going so far as to kiss one on the lips. On top of that, he must have studied John Turturro’s mannerisms as he was doing the voice track for Monkeybone, because it really felt like they were one and the same.

While I’m on the topic of people being possessed by others and capturing their mannerisms, Chris Kattan does a good job of capturing Fraser’s, all the while keeping his Kattan-ness. Not to mention the fact that he’s a corpse who just had some sort of horrific accident.

Bridget Fonda kind of felt out-of-place in the film full of…how should I put this…crazies? That may have been the idea, but she seems to be playing the straight man, er, woman, and just flat out seems uncomfortable. Not to mention she’s not very relatable, and for me, just seems like she’s the token girlfriend.

See if you can find Rose McGowan, Thomas Hayden Church, Giancarlo Esposito, and Whoopi Goldberg in Dark Town. Dark Town, and pretty much all the animation is gorgeous. Monkeybone could very well have been done by a Disney animator! He had the mix of human and monkey in his mannerisms, as well as his own characterizations. The other characters seem like a hodge podge of nightmares that were forgotten, which more or less, is what they are supposed to be. The Land of Death is even more impressive. When they arrive there, you can tell there was plenty of time spent designing this place. Hard work paid off!

If you didn’t know better, you’d think that this was a Tim Burton film. Close, but no cigar. THe director, Henry Selick, is a frequent collaborator with Burton, mos notably on the Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The influence is quite obvious, as the film employs dark themes offset with bright colors, all with a twisted story. If you’re into this kind of stuff, then you’ll love it. If you’re into crude, rude, humor, and lovable loser Brendan Fraser, then you’ll love it. If you tend to buy into all the hype you read about this being  bad film, then you’ve already made up your mind, and there really is no point to you even watching this, now is there. For the rest of us that actually can think for ourselves, Monkeybone is a fun, exciting comedy that shouldn’t be anything more than what it is, and it knows that.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars