Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Green Lantern Movie Review

As much as I love a good Superhero movie (I haven’t found one yet I would walk out of the theater on) there certainly are a lot of them to compare to this year.  As movie ticket prices continue to climb with each new improvement movie theaters are installing to keep moviegoers coming I must say something must give.  Many families cannot afford to go to every movie that releases let alone every one they would like to see and that creates more competition for these blockbusters.  The worst thing for a movie now is a critic’s review before the movie releases in the theater and this movie had its bad rap so much so Warner Bros. invested an extra million on the special effects to make Green Lantern’s suit better looking.  Not only that but the advertising budget was small in comparison to other big superhero movies and the combination did not fare well.  With that said, I came into the theater expecting to see something much more dismal than what appeared.

Don’t get me wrong though; the show definitely had its problems.  I read a reviewer’s opinion that said (paraphrased) just like G.I. Joe was a fun movie Green Lantern was just as fun.  I think with any superhero film there are two ways to approach them: one way is a serious look at the character’s struggle and present a realistic look at being a superhero and the other is a light hearted action packed fight against good and evil.  I think the writers tried to do both here and neither was done very well.  The romance between Carol and Hal was dismal and Hal’s transformation from good to better was not very enigmatic.  I found the light hearted way in which Hal delivers his old one-two to the bad guys to be silly and unimaginative.  I would have preferred him being portrayed as more clever than childish with his imagination.  

My favorite parts of the movie were when Peter Sarsgaard was on screen because he did a brilliant job with Hector Hammond.  I was horrifically disappointed in Tim Robbnis which luckily Mark Strong made up for with his complex portrayal of Thaal Sinestro.  I love how he was so cocky and strong headed.  It was so easy to see how he could become the infamous villain Sinestro.  Blake Lively was unforgettable and Angela Bassett seemed ineffectual as Dr. Waller.  Ryan Reynolds was fashionably himself for this role which remarkably fit well in my opinion however many critics site him for playing himself which comes across as unoriginal.   The truth is he has the star power for a successful run and yet fits the character at the same time.

The idea that is presented is that “will” is more powerful than “fear” but the actual way Hal overcomes fear as The Green Lantern is much different than any of his brethren expected.  Now what made up for all of the aforementioned shortcomings is the concept of Green Lantern ultimately representing good being absolute and uncompromising.    I believe in this idea as truth and I serve it as a guiding principle in my life so this made this movie very special to me for that reason.  We all have the power to make decisions and whether they are right or wrong the power is the same.  The Green Lantern harnesses the “willpower” of all beings in the universe.  The one who wears the ring must partner with that will in order to harness its power by making the choice to overcome fear and control one’s impulses to the greater good of all.  Hal didn’t possess a lack of fear the way his predecessors did which is why they questioned him but his DESIRE to do good was why he was chosen.  This is what makes him unique because he would have to examine the difference between his motives, deciding what is selfish or selfless whereas the other Lantern carriers started to take for granted their ability to discern.  This is where pride crept in for the Green Lantern Intergalactic Corps who harnessed the power of the yellow matter which is powered by fear because they discerned the best way to preserve themselves was to fight fear with fear.  There is an unspoken relationship of desire and fear in this movie that makes this subconscious teaching so interesting.  Hal defeats Parallax not because he has no fear but because his desire to believe in good always winning over evil gave him the strength and “will” to sacrifice himself (which was his fear of death) if need be and defeat Parallax.  In the end, the greatest virtue that won out was selflessness; selflessness is a combination of courage, strength and justice.  

There are opportunities for us to examine the difference between selfish and selfless acts everyday and choose between them.  For some the line has moved so much there is no difference, and yet others see the difference but it is less visible every day.  Following uncompromising truth in the midst of opposition requires selflessness to do the right thing regardless of the consequences to ourselves.  I would like to think that I am moving that line closer to truth and righteousness more every day and as I do the right thing because it is the right thing to do becomes more clear and it is easier to choose to do it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger Review

I can’t believe I waited this long to review Captain America: The First Avenger because it came out on Blu-ray a whole two weeks ago!  I still have to rush out to buy my copy but as you can see, I’m not rushing.  It’s not because it wasn’t a good movie, but there are so many coming out at the same time so I will have to rely on Christmas money to catch up.  (Thanks Family!) 

Sure this movie lacks some of the glamour of previous superhero movies like Green Lantern and Thor but it delivers on the superb acting and well written dialogue.  Great attention is paid to stay true to the era this movie takes place and it is very realistic (in the American front) with how technology is presented.  I remember the scene when Johann Schmidt enters the room in the Nordic village and discovers the Tesseract is a fake.  Hugo Weaving does such a great job of playing a controlled psychopath with rage underlying every gesture and facial expression.  I was less impressed with Chris Evans’ performance considering his 1940’s accent was not consistent and eventually disappeared.  The production value was fine and Haley Atwell was such a powerful presence that would have put any masculine hero to shame.  It is only a shame that her opportunity with Steve Rogers was wasted and a romantic subplot was not explored.  I would have liked to see more drama rather than action to propel this movie, however it would not work to propel us towards the Avengers movie and Captain Americas displacement in the 21st Century.

I don’t feel compelled to give scores for my reviews and I thought about breaking it down into a more technical aspect but that really isn’t the point of this blog.  I want to draw out the aspects that are the most inspiring to me and convey them to you.  I suppose that is one of the reasons I love superhero’s so much is because they inspire and their stories of how they suffered and overcame by either their own struggle (like Batman) or happened by chance to have an amazing second chance to change (like The Green Lantern) we can learn from their mistakes (like Spiderman) or change ourselves with their motto.  That takes me to Captain America: The First Avenger. 

Captain America is an iconic hero in that he is the first American symbol of justice and morality for kids other than the brave troops that lived in their home towns.  I see him as a typical old fashioned guy that doesn’t fit well in this day and age and he even stood out in the 40’s.  He’s the kind of guy that would court a girl and never be alone with her.  He would be a “Walton’s man” and sit on the porch swing of her parents with his arm around her sipping lemonade for a good time.  He hates bullies and loves justice any way it can come.  He is MORE than a great American guy, he is the truest form of a great American hero.  He is selfless like Superman, only he displayed the same courage before he was a hero.  This is the most important premise of this movie, and the message that should come through more brazenly than anything else.  Hero’s aren’t made; they’re home grown out of a will to do what is right.  That desire seems to be inherent more than learned, but imagine what we could do if every person followed them unwaveringly and taught these principles to their children? 

Here are some quotes from the movie that inspired me the most:

Dr. Abraham Erskine: …But, there were other effects. The serum was not ready but more important, the man; the serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great; bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen… because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power but a weak man knows the value of strength; and knows compassion.  

Peggy Carter: You must have danced? 
Steve Rogers: Well, asking a woman to dance always seems so terrifying and the past few years just didn't seem to matter that much: figured I'd wait. 
Peggy Carter: For what? 
Steve Rogers: Right partner.

I think people shouldn’t appreciate this movie for its impressive special effects or flashy presentation of a superhero world but rather the message of bravery and most of all, compassion (a respect for power and the restraint to use it.)  I doubt that the Avengers movie will have so many important moral implications at the core of its message.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cars 2 Review

I realize that when weighing in on unimportant matters I never seem to agree with anyone, but I couldn’t disagree with nearly everyone’s opinion regarding Cars 2.  I did some research before writing this article to find out what people thought of the movie and soon began a crazed search for someone over 11 who actually liked this movie.  Apparently people think that McQueen is the lovable character in this movie and should have been featured rather than Mater.  I suppose I could be blinded by my ruthless distaste for Owen Wilson or the fact that even in a cartoon he plays the typical self absorbed egomaniac he usually does.  He’s a changed car in this edition though and although he’s a “nice guy” he still makes the same mistakes inadvertently as he did before.  I suppose what I liked most is the James Bond meets Johnny English routine they used in this film and the animation was very impressive as a realistic representation.

Michael Cain plays the other lead in this film who is an ultra-spiffed up spy car that is on a mission to recover information an American agent has possession of about a mysterious mastermind.  In an equally compelling plot McQueen is challenged to a race by Luigi; a new fast race car from Italy.  The story eventually ends up being about Mater who is mistaken as a spy and silly misunderstandings become the comedy of the rest of this movie.  If you like spoofy, goofy, silly movies then this one is sure to hit home. 

My favorite theme to this movie is that it teaches how important it is to be who you are and proud of that regardless of the opposition.  I can’t count the number of times I was trying to be serious and people were laughing because they thought I was trying to be funny.  In this movie Mater is perceived to be a genius because the other spies think he is a master at pretending to be stupid in order to fool the counter spies.  He is very discouraged about not being taken seriously as a person and discarded so easily by his friend Lightning McQueen.  Many of us have faced challenges from others who don’t take us seriously but as Mater was given such good advice we too should adhere to this motto:  “If people don’t take you seriously; they need to change, not you.”  There are many people who faced rejection and adversity that went on to be great characters in history.  I’m sure you have heard the inspiring stories about people like Martin Luther, Thomas Edison and Rosa Parks.  You could be the one marching to a different tune that turns the world upside down and helps the world see things a little differently.  I say the old adage “dare to be different” is still a good one and the movie Cars 2 supports that belief.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Larry Crowne Review

If I had a successful career in film as an actor, with a few directing jobs under my belt I would try my hand at writing too like Tom Hanks has in this movie.  If I were to speak for him based on my interpretation of the movie; I think Tom wanted a realistic movie that didn’t shy away from the real personalities he may have come across in his years but he also wanted a wholesomeness that showed America still had some values.  Larry Crown is played by Tom Hanks and he is a very simple man who was probably divorced by his wife for his lack of worldliness.  He works hard and that is why he is jilted by his firing when he finds out he is not able to be promoted when the downsizing happens which leads to his pink slip.  A lack of education is sighted as the reason which is perplexing to him since he feels he should be able to remain in the same position.  He is mocked and jeered for his simple expectations, which are the opposite of the company’s desire to move people up the ladder.  Perhaps Hanks was trying to make a statement here knowing someone that this happened to. 

So, off to college then he sells his house and he gets a job as a short order cook as he tries to start over again and make sense of his life.  The interesting part of this character he portrays though is he rarely ever complains.  I think this is an important part of something we are to glean from this movie.  I mean, who WOULDN’T complain when all of these things happened to them, but not Larry.  I think that is the very attitude that helped him get to a new place in his life.  He was able to get the girl of his dreams AND the friends he didn’t know he wanted because he refused to feel sorry for himself.  I can think of many individuals who could get inspired by this movie, including myself.  You see, I’m a complainer; I always have been.  My only solace is that I complain less over the years which is improvement.  We need more Larry Crowne’s out there to show up and get the job done while changing the environment around them; trend setters I think they used to call them. 

I think this movie is wonderful because it isn’t all feel good from beginning to end but with its ups and downs I felt like I really cared about the two main characters.  Julia Roberts did a fantastic job playing the settling Mercedes Tainot until Mr. Crowne turned her worldview upside down.  She put in her time and didn’t get back what she gave which left her bitter and cynical.  We even have a cameo for Tom’s wife Rita Wilson here which was a nice surprise too.  I hope that this movie gets a lot of attention on video soon when it comes out November 15th.  Aside from the occasional adult language this movie should be viewed by minors with parental approval in my opinion.  The ratings system is far too lax for most conservative parents these days.

Unfortunately this movie does lag in some spots but not long enough to stop me from watching the whole movie through or enjoying it as a whole.  There are even a few very funny scenes like when Larry and Mercedes kiss for the first time or the drunk scene with Mercedes.  Julia delivers a wonderful performance and it’s no wonder these two very talented actors are good friends.  I can picture them all having dinner in their home while consuming bottle after bottle of wind and laughing themselves silly.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thor Review

I couldn’t help but think about what attracts us to superhero figures, and especially that traditionally boys were the ones who read the comic books.  I realize that fantasy and violence are two things boys enjoy more than most things; however, why is the idea of a superhero something men have clung to, and now women are attracted to more than ever?    Superman was published in 1938 which was the beginning of the “Golden Age” when comic books came to the forefront.  What was happening in the world?  The persecution of Jews was steadily increasing, Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia, a hurricane killed 700 on Long Island and a crippling recession caused unemployment to rise back to 19%.  It seems America was in desperate need of a break from suffering, and it’s no surprise that the film industry was in its heyday with films like “Boys Town” “The Citadel” and “Pygmalion” which are still well known today as a way of escaping into a world that is better than the one people were living in.  The Roaring 20’s were still fresh in many people’s minds and now that memory turned to bitter envy of a life they once lived or a dream they no longer could attain. 

Superman was an idea that boys could grasp hold of; rescuing a damsel in distress and being the most popular guy in town.  It seems as the generations went by, people like Stan Lee became more creative and as adults suffered more atrocities, the idea of a hero took hold of all generations. Even in my generation in the 80’s for the first time millions of kids from 5 and up were latch key kids home alone for several hours.  Many parents (including mine) bought their kids comic books to keep them out of trouble and to give them a moral center of how good triumphs over evil.  Now that message reaches many through the form of film which holds the same premise as the comic books they are modeled after and is one of the highest grossing genres in film history.  In the top 100 all time box office sales, Science Fiction/Fantasy (excluding animation) dominates the genre with 62 titles, 11 of which are actual comic book figures, and many others the same concept which includes Star Wars, Harry Potter, Men In Black, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Hancock.  Many of the other titles are fantasy cartoons that were enjoyed by adults as much as their children and provide a kind of escape.  Thor is that very kind of movie and is part of an onslaught of DC and Marvel characters trying to get their piece of the movie audience pie; or should I say “wallet.”

I have to admit, I didn’t care for Thor the firs time I saw the movie.  I went to the theater and saw it in 3D, (who wouldn’t) and found it to be lacking depth in the development of the romance and depth of Thor’s character.  Later, I saw it again in the theater and had a different perception.  I recommend anyone to see a movie more than once if your opinion differs from the majority because a person’s mood can greatly affect the lens from which you view the movie (pun intended.)  Although I still maintain that the character development of the romance between Thor and Jane to make it believable that he would risk so much to get back to her, the depth of Loki, Thor and Odin’s character left me with much more sentimentality the second time.  First of all, Thor made a tremendous change in his behavior and attitude when he was led to believe he was forsaken.  Although it was quick, I do like that it left more time for action and the awesome special effects.  The overall message of humility being “great power with great restraint” means that a good leader has the ability to inspire and strategize to make others great rather than ones self.  This is what Odin inspired to do with his two sons with poor results.  His desire for greatness was not matched with the same understanding by either.  Many parents can relate to the idea that one can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  Although conflict can bring great pain it can also bring the desire to change through suffering, and this is what Odin tried to do with Thor.

I think many of us take certain things for granted and only appreciate them when they are gone, like loved ones on our lives.  Unfortunately it is too late in these cases, and we all must make an effort to take our second chance earlier in life.  This movie made me think of the areas in my life where I am stubborn and unwilling to change, such as my finances and eating habits.  Perhaps if I appreciated my health more I would make better food choices, or if I was satisfied with what I have I would save more.  This movie is inspiring for anyone that sees it that I have talked to on some level and I hope that it inspires you too.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

X-Men First Class Review

X-Men First Class was released on DVD/Blu-ray last week and I can honestly say I was very excited about seeing it again.  I’m a sucker for Superheroes and this movie was a “Sucker Punch” so to speak.  After viewing the film again I have some opinions I would like to share with you as usual.  On a side note though it is equally exciting to announce that there are some other notable Superhero movies releasing soon:  Thor - September 13, Green Lantern – October 14th and last but not least, Captain America – October 25.  It seems all of these movies will give us a plentiful Christmas for gift giving, or in my case, presents to me.

First of all, it is important to remember that this movie is a re-boot and never promised to be a complete continuation of the previous installations; however I assumed it would stay true to the comic continuation that had been established already.  Since there needs to be a drama that is compelling, certain choices were made it seems to differ from the course of events depicted in the DC comic series which was to the dismay of many comic fans.  The sad truth is though that the comic industry was never a mainstay of American publication and although the sales revenue continues to increase some of that revenue can be attributed to inflation.  For instance in 2010, Amazon sold approximately 22 million eBooks, for an average of $9.99 or around $219,780,000 for only one avenue of book sales while all comic book sales for 2010 was about $418.6 million.  This is a decrease from the previous year of $428 million. 

My favorite aspect to “First Class” is how the story follows the emotions of the characters more than the action which leads to the motivation of each character.  From the very beginning we see how Charles Xavier is left to his own devices because his parents are wealthy and always absent, yet there is a strong moral fiber that runs through him and a desire to nurture others.  Perhaps this idea came from the nurture vs. nature theory in which Charles’ DNA took on the nurture factor while another like Raven took on a more nature factor.  I think my favorite character is Charles Xavier because he is a natural leader with charisma and intelligence and the will to nurture all that are in his path.  His character resembles myself somewhat, but I couldn’t brag about myself quite the way I can about Charles.  It’s these complex characters that allow us to become attached to them in a way that no other franchise allows us to.  One of my favorite emotional scenes from “First Class” was when Charles implies to Eric that his happiest memories possess more power than the hurtful ones and that he must put them behind, forgive and allow himself to be controlled by love instead.  Charles calls forth his brightest memory of a Birthday which moves Eric to tears, thus enabling him to move the satellite dish.  Perhaps this message will inspire other viewers to forgive much like the victims of 9/11 have been faced with for a decade.

Emma frost came under a lot of criticism for being too cold, ha, I’m just kidding.  Her age is not continuous with the previous “origins” movie.  The likeness is very striking but more glamorous than the White Queen predecessor.   Although this is true, since it is a re-boot I suspect a casting director fell in love with the appearance of January Jones and intended to use her for the effect.  I think it worked quite well because she had the walk down and her hair was perfectly styled for the role and she looks older than 33 which may not have been noticed by the casting director or the makeup made her look that way.  The movie was also quite long, just over 2 hours but the character development was so amazing it didn’t feel long to me at all.  I had a feeling the attack scene at the institute didn’t fit well in the movie because the recruits were helpless and had no leadership and the agents were all killed which was much darker than any of the previous movies.  That still doesn’t sit right with me and I hope others agree with me or we have been de-sensitized more than I had feared.  Darwin was the most compassionate and possessed the most leadership skills of all of the mutants which made his death much more disruptive to the mind and yet I still did not want Sebastian to die.  Was this the way of the writer to ask the audience to choose which side they will take as well; that of the compassionate and protective X-Men or the vengeful Hellfire Club?   Frankly I feel insulted that any writer would assume someone would root for the bad guys at all; or maybe I’m off base but it does make me wonder why anyone would put that much furry into a villain only to give him the upper hand in the conclusion of the movie.

I think X-Men is a concept that we can all relate to because each one of us feels as though we are more than enough, but have trouble fitting in at one time or another.  Many children are the victim of bullying, and adults are coming forward confessing they are suffering from the memories of similar acts, so it is no surprise that the X-Men have become heroes of acceptance to many young and old.  It is interesting too how the writers chose to depict the transformation that Hank underwent causing him to become the “Beast” that we know in “The Last Stand.”  The message of acceptance for who we are is important for this film and I could hear my subconscious saying the same as Hank regarding my obesity, “It behooves me to tell you that even if we save the world tomorrow and mutants are accepted into society, my feet; you’re natural blue form, will never be accepted by society.  We need this cure.”  I suppose there are many caught in between two sides in our everyday society and my heart goes out to them.  Finding acceptance is a wary process and I suppose each one of us must “choose our sides.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


 I hesitate to review a movie that is rated “R” but again, there can be some content that is worth watching and some “R” films are less raunchy than others.  Again though, although I review movies that are suitable for children, this is not one of those movies.  I will never review a movie that I wholeheartedly do not recommend, simply because it wastes the time of my reader even visiting my site if they want to WATCH a movie; why would you look for a movie you DON’T want to watch.   If I wanted to rate every movie I watch I would never stop typing because I see over 10 movies a week.  I did want to say though that my favorite kind of movie is a comedy.  Although I will tend to want to watch them first, I will also gravitate towards Sci-fi, Romantic Comedy’s, Action, Fantasy, Children’s and Psycho-thrillers.  If I review a movie it will definitely be one of these genres so if you don’t like any of those I listed this is not the site for your movie tastes.

Management is a very interesting movie for several reasons: one, it starts very oddly and feels awkward the way the characters behave; secondly, it doesn’t end up being about what I though it would be about, Management; thirdly, there is a message that is unexpected by the way the movie starts and fourthly it ends better than it starts, which is a good thing.  Allow me to explain these ideas.  The movie starts with meeting the family that runs a motel on old Route 66 in Arizona.  The son of the couple that owns the Hotel, Mike (Steve Zahn), lives at the Hotel and works pretty much 24/7.  In walks Sue (Jennifer Aniston) and she is livid there isn’t a recycling program at the hotel.  There is some contact that Sue and Steve have prior to this conversation and he doesn’t want his parents to know that he went to her room with a bottle of wine the night before.  Sue plays it cool and Mike is relieved.  This whole first part is very awkward but don’t let that ruin the movie for you.  There are some reasons this is shown that way which will be revealed by the characters as you get to know them and that is revealed as they get to know each other. 

The title is a kind of paradigm shift from what one would think about the word management.  Normally people think about management as a noun describing a person who “manages others” in a work environment.  Authority is what is implied by the title, and that is a key to understanding the “paradigm shift” in this movie.  I will only say, think about WHAT is being managed in this movie.  It lends to a more appreciative introspection for the message the writer was trying to create in my opinion.  Understanding this is key to understanding the premise of the movie which is to communicate an idea about how people should live their lives.  I really liked the fact that the writer director Stephen Belber used music with very specific words to convey the idea of the movie even before it was revealed completely by the context.  I would encourage you to look up the lyrics of two songs as they are playing or after the movie is over: "Adventures in Solitude" Written by A.C. Newman, Performed by The New Pornographers (IMDB) and "What I'm Looking For," Written and Performed by Brendan Benson.   Essentially the movie starts out making me think it’s about Mike’s relationship with his family, managing the hotel and the struggles of that, but nope; it’s not about that at all.  It’s really about the relationship between Sue and Mike, but even more than that, the relationship they have with themselves.  Yeah, I know; deep, right?
Without giving the point to the movie away the message is simple yet profound in my opinion.  Each of the characters has to come to terms with the way they are living their life, what they find important and what they should invest more energy into, but the script doesn’t talk about why they ended up that way.  I like that because it really doesn’t matter if they figure out how the got screwed up because the love they have for each other is what makes changing all the worth while.  Changing for yourself is what makes life worth living, and changing for someone else makes life more enjoyable.  Sometimes people live for themselves or for others but never both at the same time and that’s the very lesson these two have to learn.  Well there I go, I said it.  Its okay though, the way it’s revealed in the movie is much more entertaining and important.

The end of the movie of course is a happy ending; that’s the only kind of movie I like.  What’s the point of leaving a movie open ended or writing a tragedy if the audience doesn’t feel a sense of completion.  That’s what life is always moving toward and why we feel anxious when completion hasn’t happened yet.  A good movie is like a good song; you want it to feel completed at the end and the time getting there makes the end bitter sweet.  Bitter sweet because it was so good you don’t want it to end, but since it’s over a good completion justifies the experience.  Perhaps you will find this movie as endearing as I did and I certainly hope so.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Open Season 3 Review

There are so many choices for movies out there these days.  We have a boom in entertainment and more movie complexes with more theaters than ever before.  Movie ticket sales are waning all the time and yet Americans still watch just as many movies.  I believe that the potential for creativity is important for us to support this art form but unfortunately many people support movies they wouldn’t necessarily see if they had more information about the type of movie before renting or buying a ticket.  I started this blog so that I can review movies that I like, rather than telling people not to see a movie; that way if people who follow have the same taste they know it’s a good movie to see because I watch A LOT of movies and I can help them prevent wasting their money.  Once in a while I come across a movie that I whole heartedly enjoy and recommend for a family and Open Season 3 is the very movie.

The movie opens with Boog trying to set up a “guys trip” with Elliot but he has responsibilities and promises to his family and has to decline the pre-arranged trip with Boog.  This sets the premise of the move that Boog feels unappreciated and lonely.  Being single and having only one best friend causes him to think he doesn’t “fit in.”  Off to a distant land to find a place where he fits in and he stumbles across a circus.  There he meets a Russian female bear named Ursula and tries to win her affections.  The movie also has some funny side characters that come along with Bobbie (played by Georgia Engel from Everybody Loves Raymond) who has a clan of animals who are always trying to escape from her.  She is obsessed with finding aliens and drags her husband on these adventures in the woods in their RV. 

This series of movies always has a very important theme that understands what is common to people’s lives these days.  In the first movie it is aimed a little towards the younger audience; however this installment has a more grown up idea of making sure we invest time in our friends if we expect them to stick around.  Boog promises the llama they will have “guys night” every night to talk about guy things.  At one point Boog chooses to spend the time with Ursula rather than the llama but the llama forgives Boog for not keeping his promise to spend time with him that night.  The llama forgives him and Boog is surprised and assumes the llama won’t forgive him.  The llama says “of course, that’s what friends are for!”  Perhaps children miss the message in these movies but adults miss the message too in our every day relationships when they call apart and we don’t understand why. 

It’s a good idea to take inventory of our relationships and think about who we haven’t spent time with lately and schedule that time.  Keep your promises and you will have people in your life you can count on when the chips are down.  Family is so consuming but we always need our friends.  I hope that someone comes to your mind after reading this review and you give them a call or write a letter.  Giving someone an encouraging word, thankfulness or expressing how much we love someone and why can lift their spirits and make room in our hearts for more love.

Friday, August 19, 2011


 Family, Romantic Comedy, Kids and Science Fiction are about the only movie genre’s today that aren’t rated R, and even the Science Fiction movies are rated R these days too.  Although I do watch R movies if it is one that I feel will possess the content that will be redeeming in some way (which I’m wrong half the time) I do appreciate a good review to help me know what I’m getting myself into.  That’s why I started this blog is to communicate with like minded individuals who appreciate what the entertainment business has to offer that makes a person feel better about humanity, life, love and spirituality.  These are what I call “rare gems” in the entertainment business.  Unfortunately many of the “feel good” movies cater to an audience under 10, or assume that most families are not very intelligent because the plot is so uninteresting or it is written in a satirical way that seems to make fun of itself.  I chose Zookeeper for this review simply because it rises above all of my criticisms of movies (mostly).

I love a simple story with great writing that delivers comedy through one liners as though you were watching a stand up comedy routine.  Those are some of my favorite sitcoms to watch and this movie plays out very much like an ongoing sitcom.  One of my favorite actors who primarily plays the same character he was in “King of Queens” is Kevin James.  He is so great with physical comedy and really delivers in this movie.  There were several times I was cringing and afraid that he may really have hurt himself in the making of this movie but that’s his comic genius. 

Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) is a Zookeeper (duh) and he’s supposed to be the best zookeeper the zoo has ever had because he thinks of the animals more like people than animals.  He talks to them and tries to get inside their heads in order to meet their needs more appropriately.  To say the animals adore him is an understatement because when they hear he may be leaving the zoo again to follow a gorgeous blond buxom supermodel Stephanie (Leslie Bibb) they hatch a plan to help him land the girl of his dreams thinking he’ll be happy and stay at the zoo; until their plan backfired.  That’s when things get crazy around the zoo and we get a surprise when we find out that the lion has a name and he isn’t ashamed to say it.  Sylvester Stallone plays Joe the Lion in a major role along with Nick Nolte as Bernie the Gorilla and Adam Sandler as Donald the Monkey.  Each of the animals are played by talented actors both young and old(er) with the kind of fines that makes this movie so endearing.  My favorite is when Bruce and Jerome the bears (Faizon Love and Jon Favreau) fight with each other because they have just the right kind of humor and playfulness in their voices to make it sound so funny.

Griffin desperate to win over his ex lover Stephanie who dumped him because he was just a Zookeeper starts to take advice from each of the animals about how to win over a woman.  Each animal gives their advice from the perspective of their own instincts for their species which makes this movie so funny.  There are two premises though that are difficult to swallow the first being that Stephanie, a supermodel would have been interested in Griffin in the first place and that she would consider going back to him at all.  Secondly it is even more silly that a zookeeper that knows animal behavior already would consider taking advice from animals about women at all no matter how desperate he was.  As long as you the watcher can suspend your belief enough to enjoy the comedy in this movie you will enjoy it greatly.  There is something here for the whole family to enjoy and surprisingly it is a darn good romantic comedy too which I wasn’t expecting.  The surprise chemistry between Kevin James and Rosario Dawson is largely due to her amazing acting ability.  Equally as enjoyable was Ken Jeon as “Venom;” a crazy assistant who is gives inappropriate social conduct a new name.

The most endearing aspect to this movie is that it teaches us that it is much better to not just be true to who we are but to also strive to understand other people’s circumstances and life struggles and find ways to be an encouragement to them.  Griffin does that with the animals but many of us have people around us that are in need of friendship, compassion, a listening ear or just a smile or a laugh.  If we make an effort to take the time to connect on a heart level with strangers or co-workers little changes can effect a lot of people for good in our world.  Perhaps we may even see fewer prescriptions for anti-depressants in this country.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau Review

“The Adjustment Bureau” in my opinion is similar to some other ideas that have been around and expressed in a remake of “The Outer Limits” where there are people behind the scenes that change the sets for our home, work, store etc. before we get there because there is a limited amount of space.  This gives the reasoning for those moments when we
“swear” we left our wallet on the dresser but somehow it is on the coffee table because the “workers” made a mistake resetting the scene.  In order for this to work like clockwork, our actions have to be pre-determined. 

“The Adjustment Bureau” works in a similar fashion where we have two star crossed lovers who are NOT destined to be together.  David Norris (Matt Damon) is running for New York Senator and meets the woman of his dreams, Elise (Emily Blunt) is in the men’s room before a concession speech David must give.  The rest of the movie David is desperately and obsessively trying to find Elise, only to come across her unexpectedly 11 months later.  The encounters are brief but I feel the writers gave me an adequate glimpse into their passion and I felt the chemistry between the two was enough to want them to be together.  The “Adjustment Bureau” is a group of men who use special powers to intervene in our lives to make sure we make certain choices that lead to particular people who shape the direction of our lives.  Have you ever looked back at your life and thought about all the people you met, conversations you had, how it affected your ideas, choices and goals in life?  It can seem quite amazing that all of those events led to your happiness, or unhappiness in some cases but this is the basic idea of the movie.

I haven’t heard much talk about the movie and I can’t help but wonder why.  I suppose there are some that feel the premise is absurd since they may be Atheists however I do think the premise works best for Western minded individuals.  Many of the Eastern folks don’t get too concerned with what their deity is doing in their lives as much as they are devoted to living out the truth that is inside them.  In this adventure drama there is a clear force that is working against the two main characters and becomes the protagonist in this story.  What is interesting is that since “The Chairman” decides the course that people should take he is perceived as a villain because “The Chairman” wants something other than what the characters want.  This is the main problem perhaps the writers wanted to convey that many of us feel at times when we feel god does not have the best intentions in mind for us.  How my choices affect fate is the question we are left with?  Is my life going poorly because I caused it to go that way or does god want me to have a bad life?  Why do other people seem to have everything fall together for them?

In this movie there is a reason given for why “The Chairman” decides the course for each person in the world.  I think it makes a great deal more sense too when considering the ending when that reason is compared to how these two characters end up.  I found myself asking what choices do I take for granted and if so, how does that affect my future?  If you believe in a god who is all powerful, how much does that god affect your life, your choices, your desires?  Is Serendipity real?  I would like to think so, but I also think “free will” is an undeniable law as well.  I find that the closer I “feel” to my God, the more my choices are what He would intend for me anyway.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lincoln Lawyer Review

The Lincoln Lawyer is Rated R for some violence, sexual content and language.  I would recommend this movie for “Mature” audiences and certainly not any children or teenagers under 16.  There isn’t any explicit nudity but the language is something of concern.  Any well written movie in my opinion “flirts” with real life while shielding us from the “nitty gritty” of how corrupt it can be.  This movie does a great job of doing that especially knowing how it could have “glorified” certain personality traits people exhibit these days.

In many of the movie descriptions it begins with saying the defense lawyer Mick Haller works out of his car.  Although the opening scene depicts him interacting with several people from his car, he has an apartment and is not shown much in the car for the rest of the movie.  I think the “Lincoln” is more of a gimmick rather than a premise.  It is a little disappointing that the title makes such a big deal out of “doing business” from his car when no explanation is given for the reason.  That’s what makes me feel duped into watching because the premise seems interesting only to find out it is not important.

The real premise of this movie is “who dun it” and although it is carefully constructed to “mislead” the watcher, we are cleverly distracted from some of the side points that make this movie interesting.  I believe the old adage that “everything’s already been done” and this movie proves that point but the writers are clever to use misdirection in a way that is not often done which makes the movie feel more original than usual.  The direction and editing makes the movie move along quickly as well with little character development that isn’t necessary to the story line.  I especially like how I began to find Mick affable despite that he is defending an accused rapist.  This gives the movie a foundation for wanting Mick to “find his way” in this mystery.

The acting talents of McConaughey can be hit or miss in his movies since he comes across as a typecast actor in many roles.  His confidence is difficult to hide even in his acting and although arrogant in some films he pulls off “smart” rather than arrogant in this film.  I also appreciated seeing William H. Macy in this film.  Although he is touted as an amazing actor by many, he doesn’t seem to get many roles that are very emotional, and in this one he was a cool as a cucumber.  What I find amazing about him though is that he defines his character with such subtle changes that although he does not stand out as a supporting actor (as he shouldn’t) he does create a new persona for his character.  Ryan Phillippe is an up and coming actor that is proving his talents as his opportunities grow.  He portrays the defendant Louis Roulet in this film who is the son of a wealthy family dominated by his mother.  A playboy and master manipulator Louis is the prodigy of his mother in this reverse Oedipus look alike.  He masterfully portrays his character as someone who knows how to get what he wants which propels him on my list of admirable actors. 

Some of my complaints about this film though are that the character of Maggie McPherson seems to have little to do with Mick and his motivation.  The unresolved conflicts between them seem to have had a bigger purpose in the writers mind but the editing floor must have scooped up that purpose.  I would have liked to see an ending that had more to do with a happily ever after since we are drawn to like Mick so much by the end of the movie as the unlikely hero.  The surprises in the story line are well enough composed, however if I’m watching a movie to be “invested” in the characters as the writer wants me to I have no where to go when the emphasis is shifted to justice being the motif rather than reconciliation.  I still would recommend this movie though for the fact that it shows us that despite the things that people do for money, when truth is presented and the people we care about are involved, character will prevail and justice is the main goal for all of us.  Sometimes it takes our own comfort being disrupted to help us see what is important and that our soul should not be for sale any more.

My next review will be “The Adjustment Bureau.”  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet

How many times have you passed by the yard with the little ceramic Gnomes and thought, how tacky?  Or perhaps you have seen the commercials featuring the red hatted gnome extolling the virtues of cheap travel and said “oh, how cute!”  This is exactly the kind of sentimental platitude this movie is hoping you will buy into.  Judging from my tone I guess you have ascertained that I did not purchase.  Although the movie is based on a classic beloved story “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, it does not live up to the legacy established by the great legend.  There is always room for redemption in most movies and I’ll say that it was worth the small rental fee and I would recommend it for families looking for something better than alternatives when young children are present and it was entertaining, just not riveting.

The story starts with a typical introduction of the two families and we see Gnomeo and his Mother Lady Blueberry (Maggie Smith) and Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine) fighting with each other over nothing either of them can remember why.  The two clans prank and cause hijinks for each other in an attempt to destroy the others carefully preened yard.  Soon we meet Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) who meet by chance and instantly fall in love.  Soon their best friends discover their love for one another and advise them their love should not ever be expressed. 

The movie is definitely creative with making the world come to life with a limited set of props considering they are confined to a front and back yard.  The majority of the plot revolves around the “ultimate revenge” for the destruction of the beloved Blueberry lawnmower.  Of course there are other problems as the two sides fight each other and a rather insane ending that I won’t give away.  Of course a movie about lawn decorations come to life wouldn’t be complete without a pink flamingo (Featherstone voiced by Jim Cummings).  With an all star cast that has unmistakably unique voices this movie certainly has character but I think the suspension of belief required to watch lawn decorations was too much for me.  We have an emotional attachment to the toys that we grew up with but I have no fond memories of ever feeling affectionate towards our rock we kept the key inside of or the lantern holding jockey on the porch.  I think the facial expressions weren’t personable enough to show the emotions of the character either which made it difficult to connect emotionally to the gnomes.  I hope you will give it a try though because there are a lot of redeeming qualities to the movie.

The main idea behind this classic is that prejudice doesn’t just hurt the other person, it hurts us too.  Each side had sacrifices they made in order to hate the other gnomes, only to find in the end it was all unnecessary.  Fear can be a tremendous motivator when hatred is present.  Allow yourself the opportunity to ask questions so the unknown isn’t so scary any more.  Then we will be able to focus on what is common rather than uncommon.