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Movie review : It’s Complicated

It’s Complicated
It's Complicated
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This is easily the funniest movie of the year. If you exclude The Hangover from the list then It’s Complicated is funnier than all the other comedies that came out in 2009 combined. It’s that funny. The middle third of the movie was almost non-stop laughing. Sometimes it was even a raucous laughter.

I felt that the cast worked very well together. Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin make up an almost unbeatable trio. They played very well together and seemed to have great chemistry. Many people feel that Streep will get an Oscar nod for her work here. I feel that Alec Baldwin is just as deserving.

And don’t forget that John Krasinski – Harley the son-in-law – is in here. He provided his fair share of laughs despite limited screen time. No question that he did a lot with a little.

Nancy Meyers – writer/director – deserves 10-fold more kudos than all the actors are getting. She provided the cast with a great vehicle and gave them excellent directions. For all the crap that Hollywood produces it’s refreshing to be reminded that there are talented people there who can entertain us with a funny and real life story.

What did you think about It’s Complicated? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
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Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes legions can relax; this Holmes outing isn’t too egregious. In fact, it’s even a good time for all.

The plot isn’t really afoot, here. In other words, the plot is only okay – it has notes of Hound of Baskervilles, mixed with a whole lot of Voldemort (sort of like a grown up Harry Potter and Tower of London). But since this is an introductory movie for – one guesses – a new franchise, we can forgive a weak plot.

The real game is the relationship unfolding between Holmes and Watson.

Fans of House, MD will recognize and appreciate this Holmes and Watson. House and Wilson have the same sort of obvious male domestic partnership. The chemistry between Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law is brilliant to behold.

Downey’s Holmes is a pugilist (and indeed, so was Doyle’s) who instantaneously sizes up an opponent’s weaknesses for intellectual entertainment.

Between cases, Holmes is a wreck, unable to stop the accretion of sensory input when he ventures into normal, polite British society. He prefers seclusion in the dark, imbibing whatever is at hand, concocting bizarre experiments and bemoaning the banality of existence. Only on the case, it seems, can Holmes’ high functioning autistic tendencies be put to use. Downey manages to make his quirky character believable, extraordinarily amusing…and also pathetic. This is a flawed Holmes, to our delight.

Our man Watson is an equal here, no bumbling fool merely present to receive Holmes’ expository brilliance. Watson is a well-dressed member of London society, a respected surgeon. He is also a skilled sharp shooter, a quick study, and – to his dismay – itches to throw himself into almost any fray. Law’s Watson alternately brings Holmes back to reality and enables his obsessions.

London herself has certainly never looked so luxuriantly grimy. This steampunk version of London is stylish, very wet, and bursting with industrial zeal. The final set piece on an unfinished Tower Bridge in particular is beautifully rendered.

Watson’s Mary is a wonderful addition, adding a realistic portrayal of a bright, strong 1890s woman. By contrast, the love interest for Holmes just doesn’t work. Actress Rachel McAdams can’t pull off enough the gravitas necessary to lend credence that THIS is the one person – in all the world – who outwits/ensnares Holmes.

Director Guy Ritchie is an odd choice to direct this genre and it shows: his modern stylized quick cuts, so admirable in Snatch, only drag the viewer away from the impact of a period epic tale. With more seamless editing and a better plot, we’d have a solid A film here. One hopes the follow-up with a certain arch nemesis will be just right. A-

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Movie review : Did You Hear About the Morgans?

I ‘ve been dragging my feet to review this movie. Good lead actors in a C level film. How did this happen?

The Morgans movie commits the worst entertainment sin there is – it is dull. If I didn’t have to get the PeeTimes and end credits info, I would have walked out and sat in on the end of some other movie. Honestly. It is that boring.

This movie fails as a romantic comedy in two ways – the romance is not believable; the comedy is flat. What remains is a predictable city mouse/country mouse story that plods along between small town bingo parlors and a rodeo. There’s a cowboy dance; there are salt-of-the-Earth townspeople. Check. Check.

What was good? Sam Elliot does his well-trod cowboy thing with expected panache. I chortled at the reference to Sarah Palin. The overworked NYC assistants had a few good moments together. Um. Okay, I am out of positives here.

Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker, two usually reliable actors in the genre, have zero screen chemistry. I kept looking, watching and waiting for some – any – kind of spark between them. I got bupkis. I don’t think they even made eye contact. Were they in the same movie at all? Do the actors dislike each other?

Grant seemed to be in actual pain, for some reason, while Parker looked old and worn. These actors are still attractive people, but you really don’t see any of that here.

Grant and Parker work hard to sell their usual film personas, but neither saves this flick from the Land of Misfit Movies. Wait for the DVD, or just give it up and rent When Harry Met Sally again.

What did you think about Did You Hear About the Morgans? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

New Disney Princess Celebrates Racial Diversity

I must say I’m excited about the newest Disney princess movie, The Princess and the Frog. I love all the princess movies (it’s my girly side) but have wondered for at least a decade when we’d have a black princess to add to the lineup.

We’ve had some welcome racial diversity with Native American Pocahontas, Chinese Mulan, Middle Eastern Jasmin from Aladdin, Hawaiians in Lilo and Stitch, and a dark-toned gypsy gal in Hunchback of Notre Dame. Jasmin is considered the only official “princess” from this list, from among celebrated Disney Royals including Ariel, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella, Snow White and Belle.

Happily, a black character finally joins the lineup of mostly white girls in Disney filmation history. The Princess and the Frog’s Tiana is an African-American girl set in Jazz Age New Orleans, who has something to do with kissing a frog, and, one supposes, fights evil (there is always a villain in these movies).

I hope the story is as enjoyable as we’ve come to expect from the princess movies, without falling into racial cliches or embarrassing tokenism. I’ll be seeing the film to get PeeTimes on opening day Friday and add PeeTimes on my return home. I hope to have my movie review up that weekend.

Movie review : Armored


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Armored is a nondemanding bit of amiable escapism. I appreciated the thriller’s lean pace, warehouse visuals and Columbus Short’s earnest, determined characterization.

In the latter half of the film, it felt like a non-humorous version of Die Hard. No dig intended: I mean this in a nice way. I always enjoy seeing one man creep around the bad guys, using only his wits to defy terrible odds.

This is a solid B outing. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking in the heist genre! Big guns Lawrence Fishburne and Jean Reno do little more than grunt and look serious, making me wonder why they are here at all. Matt Dillon does have nice chemistry with Short, and this keeps things rolling along.

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

Movie review : Transylmania


What WAS this? Somewhere between a soft porn flick and a teen-humor gross-out gag film.

The movie seems to want to fall into the American Pie and Something About Mary genres. Don’t be fooled. The script lacks their cleverness but piles on the bodily humor. There are boobies, penises, farts, vomiting, midgets, pot parties, orgies, spurting blood and whatever else you might imagine is funny to immature adults.

There actually IS a plot here to follow, surprisingly. Once the story gets underway (about 45 minutes into the film), there are fun moments with mistaken identities and vampire jokes (“Vait minute – I don’t HAVE reflection!”). Watching Radu sneaking from tree to tree for shade, trying to scare a nonplussed child into giving up her bike was light fun. Pete, as a wanna-be Vampire Slayer, offers a few amiable moments.

The character of Wang eventually stands out as mildly interesting among the rest of the non-entities in this forgettable film.

Why this film didn’t go straight to DVD is a mystery. Perhaps the trendy vampire angle is meant to draw crowds? Well, it didn’t work. I was there on opening day – one of two people in the entire theater. I’ve never had so much room to myself.

Kudos to the producers for filming on location in Romania. The castle offered a rich setting, along with spooky forests, interesting townscapes, bridges, moats and dungeons.

The film gets a D+ for the gorgeous on-location filming and the surprisingly cohesive vampire plot, despite mostly listless acting and endless lame sex/pot/vomit jokes.

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