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Movie review : Date Night

RunPee - PeeTimes linkDate Night
Date Night
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Sigh. For the two funniest people on television, I was expecting very funny, not mildly amusing. The outtakes showed how enjoyable this film coulda, shoulda have been.

I don’t blame the actors. I think the director told them to dial it back and play it straight – which was a mistake, as the plot doesn’t stand on its own. Really – go ask the Tripplehorns to return the stolen flash drive and you’ll solve this whole mistaken identity mob thing? The Fosters don’t come across as morons, so the writers must be.

If the plot doesn’t make sense in a film, you have to fall back on the acting. In this particular outing, people are paying money to see Tina Fey and Steve Carrell be outrageous. It is unfortunate the actual “Tripplehorns” (in their brief scene) were funnier.

Since Fey and Carrell didn’t act poorly in any way, and even had charisma together, I am assuming the Fosters’ subdued line readings were the director’s choice.

Wait all the way through after the end credits to view the unused, spontaneous line readings and you’ll catch what I mean. These people can be VERY funny if left unleashed to pursue their genius. Someone unwisely decided to play this too straight – too awkwardly uptight – and turned out a film that’s tragically, predictably, ultimately mediocre.

Wait for the DVD for this one. B

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

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Movie review : The Bounty Hunter

RunPee - PeeTimes linkThe Bounty Hunter
The Bounty Hunter
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With its convoluted plot, you’d think Bounty Hunter might be a waste of time. Who is after who? Which set of bad guys are we looking at? Why isn’t Milo a cop anymore? It doesn’t really matter. The game is only afoot between Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston. Everything else is filler.

The attractive leads have an engaging chemistry – the sole point of the film. The snappy retorts and crazy little chase scenes fit the bill for an hour and a half of light entertainment. In fact, finding Peetimes was pretty easy, since there aren’t really any set pieces you can’t miss.

I can even ignore the unfunny insensitive treatment of Nicole’s co-worker/suitor (a nice enough fellow who puts himself in the line of fire for Nicole and gets atrocious treatment for it). It was enough for me to settle into a pleasant little March movie and watch hunky Butler make cute little Aniston squirm.

B+ for the fun, and ignore the hammy henchmen/plot MacGuffins.

What did you think about The Bounty Hunter? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day
Valentine's Day
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[ No spoilers ] First off the cast is great and huge. In the first 30 minutes of the movie there were at least 15 different scene cuts and it didn’t seem like we visited the same actor/actress twice. This movie is packed with highly recognizable stars.

There are many movies that have massive ensembles where we gradually see how their lives are intertwined. And doesn’t it seem like movies like this always take place in Los Angeles? What’s up with that? Well, there was Love Actually that took place in London. But all the rest are LA based. 🙂

I thought the movie was pretty good. Not great. Certainly no where near as good as Love Actually and probably not as good as Magnolia which is another one of my favorite’s in this genera – whatever this genera is called.

There were a few good laughs. Some surprises here and there. One thing is certain: if you see this movie then absolutely hang out through the beginning of the credits. There are a few minutes of bloopers and the last one is not to be missed. 🙂

It was very difficult to get peetimes for this movie because most of the scenes aren’t more than 2 minutes long. Plus, I knew that something that might seem innocuous but then turn out to be hugely important later on. That’s how this type of movie goes. So I just had to take my bust shot. I think the peetime after the camera man says, “High school love…ignorant of reality” is the best one to use.

What did you think about Valentine’s Day? 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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What did you think about When in Rome? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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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 : 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 : 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.

Movie review : (500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer is the best romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time. I’m going to put it in that group of great romantic comedies that sits right under When Harry Met Sally, and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

It was funny, but not hilarious. There were a handful of laugh out loud scenes that were funny to the audience but not funny to the characters ( I think we call that ironic comedy from now on).

What really surprised me is the effectiveness of the non chronological storytelling. The movie begins with day 500 and then skips around through the days non-sequentially. But it isn’t as if the story skipped around for no reason. Each jump was based on what the characters were thinking at the time. At no point was I lost thinking, “Is this the before or after breakup? Where are we?” The entire movie is a sequence of flashbacks but you hardly notice. And it seems obvious why it is written that way: it’s because this is how we actually remember things. So kudos to the writers and director for a job well done.

Zooey Deschanel was a perfect cast for this part. She is cute and quirky without being too beautiful for the role – just beautiful enough is more like it. 🙂 ( Yes, I’m a Zooey fan. ) It is fun seeing an actor like Joseph Gordon-Levitt go from the brother in G.I. Joe to this role. Even though I just saw G.I. Joe last week I didn’t recognize him. He played the role superbly by not overdoing it. He’s just an average guy who got his heart broken.

And let me add that this movie has the best post first-sex music montage ever.

What did you think about (500) Days of Summer? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.