Movie Review – Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians is a beautifully done trip to Singapore with a gaggle of interesting people. Each main character gave us a guided tour into their lives, and how it shaped their future.

Even though we didn’t see or hear much of the back story of Piek Lin Goh (played by Awkwafina), she did have the best and funniest lines of the entire movie.

Even though CRA employed a plot some may say is overdone — rich guy/girl falls in love with the ‘guy/girl across the tracks — this sweet movie did it with a breath of fresh air. The directing was spot on, the acting was way above par, and the writing was creative. All this combined demands that I give CRA a solid B.

Grade: B

About the PeetimesI have 2 good Peetimes, one at 48 minutes and the other at 1:07. Both gives you 4 minutes to break, so let your bladder decide.

Movie Review – Book Club

I thought this would be an inspiring movie about taking life by the balls (or in this case, the ovaries) in your golden years. The high-caliber cast of aging actresses is stellar; they did a fine job. I am  about 15-20 years younger than them, but feel like they have options I will never have. They are rich, live in their own lovely homes, have great careers, and enjoy close friendships with each other. They are basically Sex and the City: The Older Edition. It’s cute, it’s funny — and super depressing. I need to stick to Deadpool, Star Wars, and Avengers. Even the recent 50 Shades movie was better than this. This one….is simply full of unrealistic  mockery. It probably depends on what is happening in your life.

I personally feel cheated. In the ruins of my newly single life, I have no friends, live in a cinder-block closet in my mother’s basement, and have no future. I work out like a fiend, and look better than I did in my 20s. I have abs. And it doesn’t matter. The hoary, combed-over, wrinkled ex-husband featured in this film has a 25-year-old blonde hot bimbo for a new wife. So, what chance do I have? Do I have to find old men who think I am the young hot chick?

No, thank you.

Back to the movie. There are a lot of laughs. The entire room, playing up against Marvel’s ‘juggernaut’ Deadpool2 (that’s an in-joke, sorry), was PACKED. Mature ladies, elderly women, old couples, and the occasional young 50 Shades fan took up every single seat. That was unexpected. And the laughs were raucously loud for the first third of the film. I laughed with them too.

And suddenly, reality set in. Things stopped being fun. These four leading ladies looked amazing; they were also rich, and high-powered. (For example, one was a judge. One owned hotels. These were not normal women – they were senior superheroes.) The characters were NOT RELATABLE. A discontent seemed to seep into the entire theater: these women were not us. And the characters were lucky in a way that wasn’t aspirational.

Well, the actresses clearly enjoyed themselves. Good on them. But did the viewers walk out (and use walkers out, in many, many cases) feeling happy? I looked closely at the audience during the credits. And I have to say no: the older people seemed downcast. I myself was full of despair. These characters were clearly lucky. They didn’t work at bettering their lives. Book Club didn’t  encourage the audience to make changes in themselves, or even in their vaginas. One character bumped into an old beau. One character tripped over a hot younger pilot  (she fell into his lap <—– I need to learn this trick). And so on. Luck. Yeah.

So, how to grade this? I’d call it misleading advertising. I expected their book club to inspire changes we could all learn from and emulate. Instead, poor little rich-girl hottie (probably starving herself to keep her shape) Jane Fonda fears “real” love. Adorable Diane Keaton finds a sexy younger millionaire via a stereotypical meet-cute moment. What the heck IS THIS? I don’t eat either, to look good. But where are the men?

Well then. I suppose I’m getting too critical. I just wanted to laugh and let go of grief and regret for a couple of hours. Not happening in this film — things hit too close to home. I will say this:  if you have a really tight group of girlfriends who support you emotionally, and ply you with wine at the drop of a hat, a la Sex and the City (and yes, Book Club), hold onto them like the gold they are.

I feel like crying. Count me out.

Grade: C

Related: Keaton Kisses Kimmel, Talks Sex

Movie Review – Overboard (2018)

I’m not sure why anyone felt a need to remake *Overboard*. The 1987 original has a sparkling and famous cast, led by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel. It was sweet, it was funny, and despite the kind of casual sexism often shown in that era of movies, was a small cult classic. I loved it. I still love it and watch it when I need cheering up. But, remember, as major hits from the past go, this is still minor-league. It would be like remaking *So I Married An Axe Murderer*. Both are cute, fun little romps, perfectly made — but not exactly in the realm of important films of the 80s.

I can see re-doing *Ghostbusters* , a major movie from that time, still on any complete must-see movie list. That remake was gender-flipped, and featured good natured cameos from almost everyone in the original. Which leads me back to *Overboard*.

Someone must have noted when the gender swapped *Ghostbusters* made enough of a splash to justify its existence, and thought the concept would work for other old properties. Cue *Overboard*.

Does it work? Yes and no. With the gender reversals and current climate of correctness, it’s a lot less sexist. It also features a large Latino cast to balance out all the blond girls. The good mom (Kate, by Anna Faris) finds love and  a father to her girls; the selfish alpha male (Leo, by Eugenio Derbezlearns to be warm, caring, and responsible…so the message is nice and the audience walks out happy. There are legitimate laughs along the way, mainly via Leo struggling to learn construction under the benevolent hazing of his co-workers. I smiled a lot. This should all be fresh and new for audiences not raised on the original.

What doesn’t work is how underwhelming this version is. It’s not as charming as it hoped to be, and the cast doesn’t have that ringing chemistry of the first. The family moments feel rushed and unearned. Kate’s “nurse” story lacks the cool cleverness of Kurt Russel’s “Wonders of the World Golf Course” scenario, and the children don’t have enough anything memorable to do. The side-plot with Leo’s rich family is simply dull. That’s way too bad; the antics of the crew on the “Immaculata” were wildly entertaining.

On all these levels, *Overboard 2018* doesn’t come close to adding anything interesting that a remake should. Only the character of Leo is consistently amusing, but with his role doubling for the formidable Ms. Hawn, the actor really doesn’t stand a chance in comparison.

If you’re a huge fan of the 1987 original, you might enjoy this reboot. It’s nowhere near as charming, but has its moments. There are many lines lifted exactly from the first, with expressions and tones carefully rendered the same way (ie: “Sometimes dads leave”). A lot of memorable shots are nicely echoed (as in the quiet, tension-crackling scene of the limousine driving toward Elk Cove ). It’s fun to find these elements honored and recreated.

One thing I would have enjoyed: there should have been cameos from the original cast scattered around, as they did with the aforementioned ghost busting movie. If they didn’t want to be that self-referential, they could have slipped in cameos to the extra scene during the credits. I was mystified by the cameo absence. Evoking exact phrases and scenes from the ’87 version showed that they weren’t hiding their roots. And it would have lent a respectful sense of fun for actors and viewers alike.

Enough about comparisons. I’ll grade this movie a B- on its own merits: it’s likable and fun enough for an easy afternoon at the theater. If you want to see something much more touching, that’s rollicking and straight out funny, with far superior acting, rewatch the original.

Movie Grade: B-

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Movie Review – Love, Simon

What a great little film. This was like a John Hughes classic from the 1970s, updated for our era of cell phones and Facebook, featuring a coming out plot that’s worthy of the premise.

The actors, the soundtrack, the goofy high school hijinks and wonderfully iconic scenes…it added up to a fantastic nostalgia trip that today’s young people can relate to and call their own. Great humor and pathos. I felt for Simon’s predicament, even though — be real — who hasn’t had intense teen emo experiences? As Simon’s friends properly point out, he’s not the only one dealing with confusing, painful problems. This is ultimately not about sexual orientation, but alienation of all kinds.

These kids come from privilege (each home is a mansion), but tolerance knows no income, color, gender, or sexual orientation. Race is (mostly) a non-issue in the narrative, focusing mainly on Simon’s angst. And if you’re wondering, there’s no teen sex in this movie; kissing scenes are as far as things go.

Thankfully, the coming out story isn’t a suicide scenario. Simon’s family and friends are smart, thoughtful people. I say this so you don’t worry about coming home from the theater in tears. Remember — it’s a light John Hughes-type flick. Hughes wanted you to laugh, fret a little, and feel positive in the end. Mission accomplished.

Don’t look for a lot of depth. Still, Love, Simon is the best film I’ve seen in 2018.

Grade: A

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.