Review: Pitch Perfect 2

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                Pitch Perfect was a surprise success a few years ago for Universal.  On a modest budget it went on to make over one hundred million dollars in its theatrical run.  I had so much fun with it.  I even went and bought the album on iTunes that same day.  With it’s success it seemed almost inevitable that there would be a sequel.  Would it live up to the originals fans expectations though?

                The Bella’s are as popular as ever and are performing before the President of the United States when they have a big embarrassing situation happen.  That situation gets them in national trouble and gets them suspended from finishing their victory tour or even recruiting new members.  Beca (Anna Kendrick) and crew ask if they can have a chance to be reinstated if they win the world championships for a cappella which is agreed upon.  Finding a loophole the Bella’s are able to have a new member join in Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) a shy yet gifted freshman.  As they get to know their competition, the former world champs Das Sound Machine; they must find their harmony again to win.

                While it is a valiant effort, not surprising this one isn’t as good as the original, but that’s not to say it was bad.  First, the songs weren’t as memorable outside of the riff off or finale, which I was expecting for a sequel.  Second, just as Kendrick’s character feeling of the moronic way things were blown out of proportion at the beginning, it also grates on the audience. There could have been a better set up for the story.  Third, I was disappointed on how much less screen time was given to Skylar Astin and Ben Platt, who were some of the best characters from the first one.

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                There was enough good stuff to make the movie worth your while.  The addition of the Brigitte Hjort Sorensen and Flula Borg who lead up the films “villains” as the heads of Das Sound Machine.  Anna Kendrick is given a slightly better character and has some of the better lines in the movie, especially dealing with the rival group’s leader.  The film still has a good energy and a cast that have great chemistry.  An out of nowhere romance in the film is also a funny bit in the film.  This was a decent directorial debut for Elizabeth Banks.  I also liked a story point that was refreshing in these types of movies.  Instead of introducing a new love interest for Kendrick’s character, they have it that the two have been dating since freshman year.  Really liked that point.

                I found two things funny in this movie that I’d like to point out.  First, the whole bad situation at the beginning turning into a national phenomenon that gets the Bella’s suspended was very well done.  I’d like to think that it is a slam at our current media and their pretending offense at every little thing and blowing it way out of proportion. It was an accident and yet no one would listen, they just wanted to whine and stick their nose up, just like the real media.  Second, and this is spoilery, but performance the Bella’s do at the end of the movie was kind of hypocritical if they were going for the whole feminist angle.  For most of the beginning they are talking about how women rule the world…then finish by saying how they need a man to lighten up their life.  Right.  Movie was still pretty fun regardless of that little detail.

                I was expecting more and was let down, but it was still a fun date movie for my wife and I.  If you liked the first one, you’ll like this sequel.

2 and ½ stars out of 4

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Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Some Spoilers

                The last Mad Max film, Beyond Thunderdome, was released three decades ago and was a modest hit.  The franchise that launched Mel Gibson into super stardom seemed like it had made its run and was just happy being part of film history.  Not so for creator and director George Miller.  Fury Road had been gestating since early 2000.  Numerous stars were attached to the film, including Heath Ledger at one point and many concepts were envisioned, like a 3D cartoon.  Thankfully the stars didn’t line up for this until a few years ago.  After the teaser trailer released at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, lots of fans salivated for the eye candy and action to come.  Including yours truly.  Did it live up to the promise that teaser gave many?

                Max (Tom Hardy) is a wanderer in a dystopian future where all is desert and water and gas are in short supply.  Haunted by his past failures at protecting others, he is a loner once again trying to keep clear of the madness around him.  He is captured by the War Boys, lead by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and quickly found out to be a universal blood donor and is imprisoned at their Citadel where he is used as a “blood bag” for Nux (Nicholas Hoult).  One of Joe’s trusted soldiers; Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) has taken his beloved wife’s with her to escape his evil.   A army of Joe’s and other territories soldiers seek to get them back and Max’s is unwillingly taken with them.  Upon his escape he starts to help Furiosa keep the wife’s alive and get away from Joe.

                Yes it did, Fury Road lived up to the promise of that trailer. The story and pacing start off at a slow jog, to a steady pace, then an extremely long sprint only to settle down to take a breath before starting that extended sprint to the finish line.  This movie is gorgeous in every cinematic shot.  Just about every single camera shot is full of colors and so well pictured you could watch this film on mute and still be enthralled.  The action is incredibly choreographed, so well done and exciting, I found my palms sweating.  It is almost unbelievable that there was so little CGI in the entire film and all that action you saw was all real.  The only thing I can say that was bad about this film was when there was CGI.  Max’s haunting images of the past aren’t all that good and look cheap.  Thankfully there are not a lot of those scenes.

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                The acting is all incredible as well.  Tom Hardy is quiet most of the film, communicating with grunts, but his Max is definitely equal to Gibson’s.  Charlize Theron is equally good as the heroine.  You believe her to be tough and vulnerable at the same time.  Keays-Byrne does a lot with how well he delivers his lines and acting mainly with his eyes as his face is covered up the entire film.  Hoult gives the most layered performance.  It a believable and joyful transformation that shows his character starting off as a crazy loon to one that is sheepish and saves the day.  All of them are staring in a story that is pretty much just one big car chase and has the typical good versus evil in a very straight forward manner.

                 Let’s talk about the supposed feminism that was forced into the film, I will leave it to John Nolte from Breitbart.com because he sums up just how real feminism works and it’s in this film.  “In fact, just the opposite is true. Miller’s heroines are beautiful, feminine, and breaking away from a cult of personality and its tyrannical central government. These are feminists who have come for their God-given rights, not emasculate. They don’t crybaby, they act. They don’t tell others how to behave, they fight. They don’t want to take away your rights, but they damn sure are demanding their own.  These are women too busy being strong and independent to collapse into a helpless ball of harpy outrage over imagined offenses.”  Fair enough and straight to the point with how this movie portrays that subject matter.  It’s a truthful and insightful breakdown which in all truth is weird when the creators, especially the director, are all hardcore liberals.  Only thing I’d add is that with all the feminist consultants on this picture, it was the man who came up with the plan for hope, a man who spoke plainly and everyone listened and a man who saved the heroin from death.

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                The moment I walked out of that theater I wanted to get in line and purchase another ticket for the immediate next showing.  I’m really glad that I also saw the film in 3D.  Not since My Bloody Valentine has 3D looked so good and been done so well.  Amazingly, there is only one scene I can remember that showed any gore and I don’t remember any cursing or there was no sex or nudity.  See this film; even if you’re not a fan of the genre, treat yourself.

4 stars out of 4

Also tried out this meme thing going around:

mad max fury road meme brandon sostre copy

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Top 10 Gangster Movies

                I have always been fascinated with everything Mafia.  I was young when I started watching old gangster films on television and even watching gangster shows like the reboot of The Untouchables series, which was really good, in 1993.  I have no idea where this fascination came from, but it’s been a hobby for some time.  Reading, movies, television shows.  Well here are Hey Buddy Movie’s top ten gangster movies.

10.          Mobsters

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                Unfortunately this may have you question this list as a whole because this movie is anywhere near it, but stick with me here.  This was the movie that got me hooked on the gangster/mafia genre.  This was also the first R rated movie I owned thanks to my grandma.  A previously viewed copy that I wore out.  I was a huge Christian Slater fan, which initially drew me to the film and then I became hooked and ready to watch anything about the mafia.  I found out that a lot of the film was historically accurate.  The look of the film and the colors used make much of it actually eye popping.  It also has some pretty decent dialogues, especially from F Murray Abraham.  Give it a shot if you haven’t seen it yet, it really is worth it.

9.            Road to Perdition

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                Adapted from a graphic novel, Perdition is one of the better comic to film adaptations existing.  Tom Hanks plays his first villain character that the audience actually starts to feel for as he tries to protect his son from a vengeful gangster he once thought of as family.  Hanks character is a hitman with a heart.  The late great Paul Newman is very reserved in his role as head of a family that adopted Hanks as one of their own and must decide between him and his own son.  Jude Law puts in a haunting performance as the hitman hired to kill Hanks.  Not only is it an interesting story, but the direction and photography/production values are incredible.  The movie looks beautiful throughout its entire runtime.

8.            The Departed

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                Odd that a Scorsese film would show up on a list like this, but here it is.  This is the one that finally got him the Oscar, even though it wasn’t his strongest effort.  This was Jack Nicholson’s last great role in a career that had a lot of great roles.  I used to have a deep seeded disliking for Leonardo Dicaprio in his early acting career, I didn’t get why he was so popular.  This is one of the roles that earn that popularity.  Everyone, Martin Sheen, Adam Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, on down to the one liners is perfectly cast here.  There is hardly a dull moment in the film and it has one heck of an ending.

7.            Donnie Brasco

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                The combined greatness of Depp and Pacino is what makes this movie the success it is.  I don’t think there would have been a very good movie here if the cast was different.  Can you picture either Tom Cruise or John Travolta, both attached at one point, as Brasco?  Pacino and Depp lose themselves in these characters and it’s mesmerizing.  Top that with a based on a true story premise and you have got one good movie.  The production value on the wardrobe as well as the feeling of the era comes across perfectly on screen.

6.            The Untouchables

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                It would be interesting to see if this movie would have been as good if Robert de Niro wasn’t Al Capone and Sean Connery wasn’t in the wise sage role.  Both of them are the best parts of the film.  Rounded out with the star Kevin Costner as honest cop Elliott Ness and Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith to finish the group make for a fun cast.  Some great locations and some seriously good costume design make this film look authentic as well as an enjoyable movie to watch.  Filled with memorable scenes and many quotable lines, this is one to cherish.

5.            A History of Violence

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                The second film on this list whose source material came from a graphic novel.  Viggo Mortneson plays a small town café owner who gets national coverage as a hero after masterfully killing two killers who were on a road trip of death.  This brings a mysterious man to his door step played by Ed Harris who thinks Viggo’s character is a mafia hitman on the run pretending to be a husband and father.  This is another one that looks great, no surprise there as it’s directed by David Cronenberg.  It has some parts that are hard to watch, so fair warning here.

4.            Eastern Promises

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                Another Cronenberg/Mortenson collaboration came in the form of a Russian gangster flick.  Mortenson plays the close friend and advisor to a New York gangster’s son who has ties to the Russian mob.  The look of the film feels as gritty as the story.  The acting is phenomenal and the story has a great ending that I thought would bring on a sequel, but we have yet to even hear of one happening.

3.            Goodfellas

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                This film is brilliant in almost every way.  It was a game changer for film when it came out in 1990 for many reasons.  It had unflinchingly realistic violence, multiple narrators and a quick pace that seems to build in energy.  This movie is hands down Ray Liotta’s best role and outside of The Godfather Part 2, Robert de Niro’s as well.  Add to that the brilliant performance by Joe Pesci and so much of the supporting cast and you have one of the most realistic gangster films ever made.  It’s also another great quotable film.

2.            Gangs of New York

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                Many or everyone would strongly disagree with me on this one, but I think this is Scorsese’s best film to date.  It was a film of love for him, which he developed for years and finally came to fruition in the fall of 2002.  The cinematography and production value alone is something to behold.  You can feel the dirtiness and cold through the screen.  You also get an absolutely genius performance by Daniel Day Lewis as Bill the Butcher.  The rest of the cast is great as well.  After seeing the movie I ran out and bought the book that Scorsese based his film on when he found it in the late seventies at a friend’s house.  Scorsese bring Herbert Ashbury’s fantastic historical text to life and it is awesome.  It’s an all around good film.

1.            The Godfather

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                I don’t think anyone would argue that this film shouldn’t be number one.  Though some prefer its first sequel over this one, I have to go with this one every time.  What was missing from that sequel was the intense performance of James Caan.  The movie succeeds on practically every level.  From the genius performance of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino to the pacing and tone of the film, this film will stand the test of time again and again.

There you go, thoughts?

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Terrific Trailer Tuesday: ‘Black Mass’

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For the last few weeks I have been trying to complete a new top ten list about gangster movies.  One of the reasons was because of this incredible trailer for the upcoming bio film of one of America’s most ruthless gangsters, Whitey Bulger.  The trailer is not only effective in showing us that Johnny Depp can still be a tremendous actor, but shows us how to build up tension and expectation.  Enjoy.

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Review: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

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                In less than a decade, Marvel has been able to do what once was thought impossible, make a shared movie universe and a very successful one.  Not just commercially but critically as well.  With only a few hiccups to date, some say Iron Man 2 was the first one, but they are wrong that film was good; this is a true success story.  Stand alone movies of powerful characters were then effectively put together in one film with box office fun.  Could the creators ever top that with its eventual sequel or would it follow the trend of a decent but not better follow up?

                The Avengers have been fighting through one Hydra battle to the next to find a scepter of power that has fallen into the wrong hands.  Once they have successfully captured the scepter, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) finds that the gem that powers it has a brain like a powerful computer.  He and Bruce banner (Mark Ruffalo) decide that they could harness that power into artificial intelligence that would protect the world in a way that they would never be able to.  Unfortunately their plan does not go well and Ultron (James Spader) is created and feels his mission to protect the world means it must first be destroyed.  It is up to the Avengers to assemble and stop this world wide threat.

                Not even a fair fight on this one, Avengers 2 surpasses its predecessor by leaps and bounds in almost every way.  The story keeps you interested and gives moments for each character to develop further or for the first time, which has always been hard, just ask Sam Raimi or Marc Webb.  It was actually amazing to see that each character had a special moment in the movie.  It was funny in a way that only a Joss Whedon movie can be funny and it works.  It also raises the stakes from the first one in not only its bad guy actually posing a serious threat, but you see what the chaos does to those people outside the fight in ways that make your palms sweaty.  The veterans who have done more than one movie are all still top notch as are the additions of Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Paul Bettany.  Each of the new actors are welcome additions but it is James Spader who steals the show hands down while also creating the first really awesome bad guy in the Marvel universe.  Editing is tight which kept the pacing going from first reel to last and the CGI wasn’t over bearing or hokey.  The story was engaging and fun.

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                Heroes versus villains, overcoming barriers to reach a common goal, sacrifice and bravery are all still strong themes here and it still isn’t boring or feeling like its will ever start to.  The core of the team has been through a lot since the last movie and they have had to deal with overcoming doubt, fear and not trusting the man beside you.  I think maybe the stories only failure, which in no way goes against it, is that Whedon seems to try to want to make a philosophical point on what makes us human or what is the best way to go about keeping us safe.  It’s there and it never really seems to be fleshed out but instead offer broad strokes of a philosophy with no real pay off.

                Whedon has pulled of what once seemed impossible.  He has upped the ante, mad it bigger and better, grew the characters to the point where the audience is truly invested in each one and has done so with cleverness and humor.  Great start to the summer movie season.

4 stars out of 4

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Review: ‘Birdman’

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Spoileryish

                Michael Keaton has been very much missed as a leading man for over a decade now.  He has made some great turns in both live action and animated films as secondary characters.  Cars was some great voice work and he created a funny villain.  The Other Guys was a very funny movie, if not completely ignorant of business/politics and he was one of the best parts of the movie.  Not sure why he hasn’t been in a lot more movies for awhile, but his return to the big screen as the lead in something that looked like it encourages his talent was very welcome.  How was it though?

                Riggan (Michael Keaton) is a once huge star in a super hero movie franchise that is fighting to be relevant again with a new Broadway play.  Haunted by his past mistakes he struggles to keep a cast together for opening night that includes new actor and hyper method actor, Mike (Edward Norton).  As he struggles through this, he also struggles to connect with his assistant who also happens to be his daughter (Emma Stone).  As he tries to balance all the things going on in his personal and professional life he tries to mount a comeback that matters and not let the voice in his head control him.

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                This is one the better films about the stage that has come out in awhile and has an interesting story and a phenomenal cast.  Michael Keaton gives his best performance to date and I hope that he continues on this path so we can see him in better and better films.  We’ll see.  Zack Galifianakis turns in an equally great performance as Keaton’s characters business manager.  Norton does well, which is no surprise and, from what I’ve read on the movie, he is also poking fun at himself and reports that he is difficult to work with.  Stone has some great lines and is equally capable to keep up with everyone else.  Combined with acting is the engaging and interesting story.

                The films theme of what it means to strive for relevance in life and the pursuit of it is one that we can all connect with easily.  Riggins search for significance and meaning as his previous bad decisions in life creep up on him comes as not only heartbreaking but also pitiable.  The search for meaning in one’s life is a very real one and this movie shows it uncompromisingly. The only issue within the story is that the end shows that it means nothing.  In the end, as is too often, when someone reaches the goals that they have and they were all self-serving instead of serving something outside of themselves it ends up meaningless.  Riggan gets what he wants, showing the critics and naysayers that he had something to offer but it seems like he doesn’t feel what he suspects he would have, joy in his new relevance  As others are excited by what he did and gleefully tell him, he sits calmly and nods with a soft agreement.

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                  There’s no show of happiness in him, which after spending the time through the characters journey to get there seems a bit disappointing.  But when you think about it more it is what this world teaches us.  From a spark that created the universe we evolved to where we are now we’re told.  If there is no meaning in our own creation, what is the point of finding meaning in life?  In the end its all for not, so really the obvious question is why do it then?  In a world where relativism and liberalism continue to choke out any true morality this is it.  As Emma Stones character tells her father earlier in the film, “You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it.”  For those of us who call upon the name of Christ can’t disagree more.

                Give this one a shot if you like a thinking man’s movie or anything having to do with acting or the theater

3 and ½ stars out of 4

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Review: ‘The Rewrite’

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                Recently I reviewed Music and Lyrics, the last movie Hugh Grant and Marc Lawrence worked on together.  That movie was great and so it was no wonder my interest was piqued when I saw the trailer for The Rewrite.  Hugh Grant is one of the better comedic actors in the last few decades that seems to have made a few bad decisions career wise.  The last few years though it seems like he is making some better choices and I’m liking them.  Was The Rewrite one of those good decisions?

                Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) is a former Oscar winning screenplay writer who has hit a bit of a rut and can’t find any work in Hollywood.  His agent pitches him the idea of working this through by teaching at a University in upstate New York called Binghamton.  Reluctantly he accepts and finds himself in an environment he has never been in before; a small town feel with small town people.  He begins to teach his class grudgingly and yet is able to find some sparks of giftedness amongst his students.

                As expected when the movie started, this is a well made film with an engaging story and some really good acting and comedic timing.  Grant is the best which is why he gets top billing but there are several other performances worthy of note.  Chris Elliott, who should be in more things because of his brilliance, is subtle in his sad divorcee teacher trying to be friendly to Grants character.  J.K. Simmons, who has always been a great actor, plays the department head of the university and is funny in his own subtle way and has a great side story involving his family.  Allison Janney, relegated as the go to villain in these films, does her usual mean self and it still works and brings her own laughs.  Marisa Tomei is lovable as the overly positive influence in Grant’s life.  The rest of the cast is charming as well as bringing their own twist to what would usually be clichéd characters.  There were many places in this film where it strayed from the clichéd besides what the characters acted like.  When given chances to betray others as other films would have done to set up tension, this one doesn’t.  Will they won’t they is handled differently and so on.

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                Another straight forward romantic comedy that is very much worth the viewing.  As far as the story goes and what it aspires to teach its audience, it is another good aspect about the film.  Our protagonist is lost, living in the past and is unsure how to make it in his future.  By discovering why he loved what he was good at in the first place he is able to teach others how to grow their own talent.  Not only that but to encourage those who in other places in the school are talked down to.  A feel good movie that doesn’t bash you over the head with it.

                This is one of those movies where when the credits start to roll, you are disappointed that you will not continue on with the characters you’ve become attached to.  I could have had another hour of this movie and it would have been great.  Each character was that good and well developed.  I wanted to see how the class ended, what the future held for Grant’s character as well as many other characters.  That’s good storytelling when the viewer wants to spend more time with the story and you will.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

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Quick Reviews

                Here’s a list of a few recent viewings I have gone through lately that I didn’t or didn’t want to review for whatever reason.  Hopefully I can give a short review that may peak your interests to either watch or pass on a film you might have been considering.  There can be a mix of newer/older movies with a few insights.

Maps to the Stars

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                Such a messed up and yet very well made film.  This film and The Wolf of Wall Street are the best examples in recent years of the disgusting moral depravity of man.  All the actors are great in this film especially those that most likely really act like this in real life…looking at you Julianne Moore.  The breakout here is Evan Bird whose role as an entitled teen Disney type dirtbag is so good that you are constantly nervous when he is on screen.  This is an uncomfortable movie to sit through, like Wolf, but a very well done film.  3 stars out of 4

Blended

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                The hate for Adam Sandler in the last decade makes absolutely no sense to me.  Are his movies classics or made for awards season?  No and that’s the point.  They are made for people who want a marginally positive themed movie that makes them laugh and makes the studios gobs of money.  Here another one of those to add to Sandler’s resume.  Sandler’s comedies have always been about loyalty and family, at least in the last TWO decades.  Sandler and Barrymore are still great on screen together.  This is another great movie about family, responsibility and loyalty and it has many laugh out loud moments.  Watch out for Terry Crews giving a very hilarious performance and Sandler and Barrymore still proving they can pull the ole heart strings.  2 and ½ stars out of 4

The Cobbler

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                Spoke too soon?  Not really but man was this an awful movie.  This film has no idea what it wants to be.  Fantasy?  Comedy?  Family drama?  If you’ve seen the trailer, this is not the movie promised in that trailer.  Adam Sandler was fine, Dustin Hoffman better still but everyone else was just atrocious.  The love interest was so bad I don’t even want to bother to do a simple Google search to give you her name.  Not sure which was worse, this one or Grown Ups1 star out of 4

The November Man

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               Pierce Brosnon doing his best Liam Neeson impression.  This is the new thing apparently, now that we have the despicable Sean Penn coming out with his own geriaction movie (wish I had made that one up).  This is good enough.  It has some decent action and looks good but that is really all there is to it.  Outside of some interesting scenes, one of which includes Brosnon asking his protégé to choose between his love or his job, the movies a let down.  Give it a shot if you are bored one day and it’s on Netflix.  2 stars out of 4

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Little Buddy Review: ‘Planes: Fire and Rescue’

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                The first Planes movie was a huge disappointment for me.  Practically zero laughs and a story that didn’t seem to be told very well.  I really enjoy the 2 Cars movies so I was expecting to enjoy Planes.  So it was no surprise that I wasn’t all that willing to see the second one.  Then Christmas came around and I like getting my son movies for Christmas.  He loves fire trucks, which he still calls “weenews” and he likes helicopters.  So this was a no brainer purchase.  Would it be as bad as the first one or at least re-watchable?

                Dusty Crophoper (Dane Cook) is still a world famous racing plane that helps his hometown with notoriety for their upcoming corn Festival.  During a practice race he pushes his gear box too hard and breaks it.  There are no more gear boxes made in his model but his friends try to track one down leaving Dusty unable to race.  An accident at the air strip he lives has a fire that makes it so the older engine needs upgrades and a new volunteer firefighter.  Dusty volunteers and is sent to a national park to train as a firefighter with Blade (Ed Harris) and his team.

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                Hands down, this is a much better movie than the first one.  The story is streamlined to something that is clichéd, but with characters you actually like (especially ones your kids will connect with and love) it doesn’t matter.  That’s what was missing the most from the first film.  My son has seen that one maybe twice, while this one he and I have watched multiple times.  He loves it.  He even got so attached to the characters and what they were doing that when someone was in danger he was worried for them.  He also laughed a lot just like me.

                The icing on the cake for this one is that it is dedicated to heroes, in this case firefighters, before the film even starts.  Fire and Rescue is a enthusiastically positive movie of the sacrifice and heroism of our nations firefighters, especially in fighting wildfires.  This is a really fun movie to watch with your kids.

3 stars out of 4

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Review: ‘Music and Lyrics’

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                Hugh Grant was thrust into the celebrity arena in the early nineties with a little movie called Four Weddings and a Funeral.  It was a movie that was hugely popular at the time, but doesn’t seem to have held up as well as it continues to age.  Drew Barrymore in mostly known nowadays is the cute Rom-Com girl and she can do it very well or very badly, doesn’t seem like there is a middle ground.  Both have seemed to get better with age, especially Grant, just look at About a Boy, Love Actually, The Pirates! Band of Misfits and possibly the upcoming A man from U.N.C.L.E.  But there is one movie I’d like to add to that list and it’s this one I am about to review.  Even though certified fresh through Rotten Tomatoes, there is a lot of hate for this movie for some reason.  I have seen it show up numerous times on his worst roles or horrible romantic comedy.  Not only do I think that’s unreasonable, I think it’s one of his better roles.

                Alex (Hugh Grant) was part of a popular pop group in the eighties.  His partner in that group went on to be hugely successful as a solo act while Alex lives on his former glory, performing in small venues to a much older fan base.  A popular pop star named Cora (Haley Bennett) has hired him to write her a new hit.  Sophie (Drew Barrymore), a girl who has been watering his plants for a few days, impresses Alex with her talent for lyric writing.  He employs her talent and the two begin to scramble to write Cora’s next big hit in only a few days.  As they do they both grow close as they learn about each other’s past and former passions.

music and lyrics still

                This is a fun, well paced and well acted romantic comedy.  Not only are there great performances from the two main players but the supporting cast are just as good.  Brad Garrett has a lot of big laughs as Grant’s characters always faithful manager.  Kristen Johnston also has some heavy laughs as Barrymore’s sister who has a huge crush on Grant’s 80’s pop star.  The music video at the beginning of the movie is one of its highlights as it looks perfectly 80’s.  From the horrible outfits and haircuts, to the cheesy storyline and rhythmic beat of the music it is a pure 80’s flashback.

                The main song is not what you think, the catchy throwback to the eighties that opens the movie, but the “Way Back into Love” song the two main characters write together.  Both characters have lost something in their lives that they once loved and have forgotten what their passions are.  Their way back into love is original music and performing for Grant’s character and writing for Barrymore’s.  It’s not only a decent song but wraps the story up nicely and showing that the theme of the movie is ones passion and how to encourage it in each other.

3 stars out of 4

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