Movie review : Our Family Wedding

RunPee - PeeTimes linkOur Family Wedding
Our Family Wedding
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Surprise sleeper hit! Excellent writing, gales of genuine laughter and an appealing ensemble cast. A+ all around, and an example of how a movie should be done.

This was our favorite movie this year, so far. The fathers steal every scene from the game young couple, making you wish the snapshot photos during the end credits actually herald a return to these families’ lives.

It was challenging to find Peetimes for this film, since there are interesting and funny moments in every scene. Listen closely to the throw-away lines of some of the extended family members. This cast illustrates well the old chestnut of there being no small roles, only small actors.

There is a scene with a goat, where you realize (like the characters do), that Big Life Events are impossible to control once set in motion…and the best thing is to simply sit back and watch the mayhem play out. Then you pick up the broken wine glasses, straighten the tables, and blaze forward anyway.

If you enjoyed My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll see some echoes of that here, mixed in with Father of the Bride, Grumpy Old Men, and even the Odd Couple. Great soundtrack, too, which I plan to purchase. Everything associated with this film was simply stellar.

I actually want to go back and see it again. Maybe instead of seeing Cop Out! Oh, wait. I already saw Cop Out. Too bad. Our Family Wedding was the kind of surprise pleasure that a reviewer gets to enjoy once or twice a year…if she’s lucky.

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Movie review : She’s Out of My League

RunPee - PeeTimes linkShe’s Out of My League
She's Out of My League
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Charming in a low key way. While the lead characters have no actual romantic chemistry with each other, they are enjoyably cast. The backup friends (on both sides) are really the delight of this film. Stainer and his motley TSA group really come into their own by the story’s end.

The mathematics of hotness is interestingly worked out, all things considered (even though the sappy final message is that we’re all a 10 outside if we believe it inside).

This wasn’t too hard to get PeeTimes for, as nothing really happens in this film that you absolutely can’t miss. It’s not like there is an actual plot here. It’s just a cute lightweight film that seems to have a bit of fun with itself.

B-, and wait for the DVD.

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Movie review : Cop Out

Cop Out
Cop Out
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Cop Out was hard to watch. It…um… sucked. It had humor and adventure and really bad guys, with independent but loyal female characters. Some moments provoked a giggle or two.

With me so far? Cop Out cast me nostalgically back to 80s police movies like Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard (Bruce Willis: “I never saw that movie”) and hell, strangely, Star Wars. Why not? Sounds okay, right?

Cop Out still sucked.

Kevin’s Smith’s latest work is a mish-mash of nonsense that even Bruce Willis can’t redeem. Unless you absolutely love Tracy Morgan’s gummy elucidation, you won’t laugh as much as the script thinks you will. I would have really enjoyed Tracy’s extended ‘homage’ debriefing had he taken the marbles from his mouth. Is this actor missing some teeth? Is there some chew in there that precludes comprehensibility? And by what clever notion does common penis/bowel-movement vulgarity equate humor (outside of a South Park episode)?

And Bruce. Sigh. Lovely, sexy, straight-man Bruce. You need to get together with Harrison Ford and commiserate about Extreme Measures and this miserable wacked-out flop. There was some decent buddy-chemistry with Tracy. We know you tried. You know we still love you, right?

We will still pay good money to watch your cute, vulnerable/tough guy shtick.

Just please, don’t do these lightweight jobs that should reasonably embarrass everyone with their names in the credits.

Lastly. Kevin Smith, we won’t hold this against you. We KNOW you can do subversive and funny. This just wasn’t it.

Somewhere between a C+ and B-, but we recommend you wait for the DVD.

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Movie review : Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson& the Olympians
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
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A very enjoyable flick! Kinda Harry Potter meets the X-Men. Fun, watchable, an A-.

Since this is the first installment in what I am expecting to be a new franchise, I am willing to give the plot a lot of leeway. So yes, the denouement is rather awful, but the build up more than compensates. And each step of the Pearl Gathering trials was so completely enjoyable I can’t decide which of the three parts I liked best. Medusa? The Hydra? Or the little detour in Las Vegas?

(I might have to pick Las Vegas. Although Uma Thurman did some wonderful scene chewing at “Auntie Em’s”).

I’ll also give the young actors some time to settle into their roles. There was nothing egregious here, and I look forward to returning to a peek at how the Olympian Gods live within our own society.

One thing though: Hades? It’s not Hell. Writers, go back and read your mythology texts.

What did you think about Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness
Edge of Darkness
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Mel Gibson provides just the right touch in Edge of Darkness – he’s a sweetheart father, a rough Boston cop dedicated to his job, and pretty darned good at psyching people out to give up their creepy intel. He’s also lucky to make it to the end in one piece (so to speak) with that nothing-left-to-lose ‘tude he pulls on everyone in his path. Yes, he’s done that before in Lethal Weapon, but that was back in the Pleistocene. Mel’s a grown up now, and a lot darker.

It was hard to find PeeTimes for this movie, since you really do need to pay ATTENTION to everything that goes on. And sometimes, even when you are paying close attention, you still miss a subtle clue, or just can’t untangle what someone with a quiet but thick English accent might have just said.

Is this a scary flick? No. There’s some vomit and blood, but it all makes sense with what is going on. You’ll startle at least once (there’s a thing with a car door…). Are there laughs? A running gag about what’s legal in Massachusetts got the audience going each time. Will you cry? I tried not to. I almost made it. That last 15 seconds got me over the edge, dang it.

An excellent score by Howard Shore backs up this surprisingly thoughtful thriller. Dark, complicated, intense, a few light laughs and a tiny bit of tears at the very end. See this film. A-

What did you think about Edge of Darkness? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : When in Rome

When in Rome
When in Rome
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I like Kristen Bell; she is a doll. When in Rome is charming fluff to pleasantly fill an hour and make you want to believe in magic. Maybe. Ignore the plot holes and try to just have fun.

The film sweeps along at a swift clip with hardly any filler. Bell and Josh Duhamel have a nice, easygoing chemistry. The silly suitors (including one surprise casting) get down with their bad selves as enjoyable irritants. The Wizard of Oz ending was sappy but cute: “And without you, Dorothy, I would never have found the courage/heart/brains to become a better person.”

Duhamel’s buddy Puck is also a hoot in his off-kilter supporting role. Let’s hope he finds a woman who appreciates Wookies.

I would have liked more scenes in Rome. Most of the film is in New York, and that was a let down. New York City – pish – done that. At least recent rom-com Leap Year treated us to a fine Irish panorama. I wanted more Rome.

Thoughtful use of the Guggenheim, though.

When in Rome earns a solid B for light hearted, silly fun with a ‘different’ romantic premise. It’s not trying to make a statement or pretend to be something deep. The audience laughed a lot, and so did I.

Ingredients: love-struck suitor fun, amiable romantic antics, wedding chuckles. Add a pinch of art discussion and one Roman statue of Venus. Mix well with attractive leads. Serve warm, with a side of laughter.

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Okay, duty done: let’s get down to what really needs to happen: Getting Veronica Mars back. Please? Any producers listening?

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Movie review : Extraordinary Measures

Extraordinary Measures
Extraordinary Measures
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This was a major disappointment, sad to say. The sick children were perky and adorable, and it was neat to watch Harrison Ford play a crotchety misogynist. And…that’s about it. B- and rent the DVD if you must.

Here is the screenplay, in a nutshell:

Investors: Do it our way if you want the money. Bwahaha.

Father: My kids! My sick kids!

Investors: So your kids are sick, so what? We need to make this profitable; also you represent a conflict of interest.

Harrison Ford: I love rock n roll. So put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

Lab Techs: Sir, there’s a problem with the quantum polarity generator in the graviton field! We need to align the variances in the isolinear emitter of the multidimensional subspace amplifiers!

Father: Did you know my kids are sick and really cute?

Everyone: [Together] Awwwww. Hugs and bunnies and pooping rainbows!

Harrison Ford: I hate all you people.

Brendan Fraser: I thought I saw a mummy around here somewhere.

[Fadeout]

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Movie review : Legion

Legion
Legion
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Legion. Big sigh. I wanted so much more.

It’s about Revelations, sorta, and that is a really big deal in Christian mythology. Four horsemen, the holy host, avenging angels. The legions of God, right? Thus the title? We got boils and locusts. And…strangely enough, zombies.

So the world ends by God Matrixing people into flesh eating zombies? Whut?

Where were all the angels? The wrath of the Almighty? Why does this movie devolve into a languid morass of exposition, recycled Terminator plotlines and lackluster zombies? Even for a zombie movie, this is uninspired drivel. There is one cool moment with a creepy ice cream man, and the nice old evil dead lady offered a promising tease.

And then? A whole lot of nothing, paired with a random cast of morons to get picked off before you gave a turd. Turd. Yes, that is what this movie was. It makes me mad. It makes me want to go back and see Daybreakers again, which was a GOOD monster movie, to flush the disappointment of Legion out of my system.

B- for okay production values and fine work by Paul Bettany as Archangel Michael. Bettany conveys power and majesty, even wingless and armed with automatic rifles (again, whut?), in this sad excuse for a horror-action event. His scenes with Archangel Gabriel are pretty good. More of that would have been nice.

Finally, the denouement was plain old dumb: “I gave him what he wanted.” Fail. I am all testy now. Testy, huh, like Old Testament testy.

Perhaps some other writer will try to mine this rich field again and give us a blockbuster film about God giving up on mankind, with all the philosophical resonances, mankind’s struggle, the horror of angels wielding death brands and smiting humanity the forsaken.

What did you think about Legion? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Leap Year

Leap Year
Leap Year

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With its stunning on-location southwest Irish landscapes, Leap Year is a sweet treat for the eyes. The leads are easy on the oculars also.

We don’t get anything new here – our characters share in their disdain for each other, bickering their way from Dingle to Dublin, occasionally revealing emotional baggage while inwardly denying the building romantic attraction. Do they end up together? DO THEY? What do you think?

I’m okay with all this. It’s a romantic comedy. Most movies of this ilk trod such ground – it’s what we buy with our ticket. What makes something in this genre worthwhile is how the characters get there. Where we experienced utter FAIL last month with tired romcom Did You Hear About the Morgans, Leap Year is actually a pleasant 105-minute diversion.

Some of the humor works, in particular a running verbal gag about Anna’s suitcase, and a sweet beach scene with drunken Anna declaring Declan an irritable, beautiful lion. The director should have stuck with such story-based comedy, because the slapstick moments (a flying shoe, slipping in the mud, stepping in poo) are merely embarrassing.

[Spoiler-ey comment ahead, although, honestly, what else do you expect in a romantic comedy?]

By the time Anna returns home to Boston we feel her dismay in seeing her old life through newly adjusted eyes. This makes more real her snap decision to head back to Ireland and confront Declan. What she says to him is highly awkward – I was squirming through her speech – but earnestly heartfelt.

[No more spoilers]

Ireland herself steals most of the scenes, with endless rows of ancient stone walls lining narrow country roads, sheer ocean cliffs, romantic tumbling castles overlooking lush valleys, and quiet bed and breakfast inns tucked under statuesque trees.

Next best is Matthew Goode, a marvel at turning mediocre lines into something fresh and intriguing. Declan is a joy in his rudely insightful, gruff way, and has a knack for eye-rolling expressions of disdain. Goode carries this film, infusing delightful charm into his old boyo persona.

Amy Adams is serviceable, reprising Meg Ryan’s ebullient control-freak tendencies from When Harry Met Sally. Her Anna is a snotty yet likable Boston socialite, intent on getting exactly what she wants in the exact manner she envisions. How cute little Adams manages to totter around on those heels – on those roads – is a cinematic mystery.

Leap Year was light and enjoyable. Goode’s charm tugs this B movie into an actual B+. But be warned: you’ll leave the theater planning a trip to Dingle and the spectacular southwest Irish coast.

What did you think about Leap Year? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Daybreakers

Daybreakers
Daybreakers

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Do all angsty, brooding, attractive vampires have to be named Edward? Oh, wait, we also had Angel and Louis. Okay, strike that, but it’s still weirdly coincidental.

I saw this movie yesterday and have a lot to say about it. Still compiling my thoughts and will add a full review this weekend.

So far it gets an A from me for being stylish, intriguing and intelligent. The projectile blood and juvenile gore drags the score down from a potential A+.

What did you think about Daybreakers? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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