Top 5 Whodunnits in Film

After months of positive buzz, Rian Johnson’s mystery Knives Out is finally being released.  It features an all-star cast with Daniel Craig playing the detective, and Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, and Jamie Lee Curtis among the suspects.  In case this new release whets your appetite for a good mystery, here’s my list of top five whodunnits.

1. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) 

This list would not be complete without a good Agatha Christie adaptation.  I wanted to to include one of the versions of Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None but I’ve

Poirot explains it all.

never seen any of them.  I can highly recommend the novel, however.  Back to The Orient Express:  Detective Hercule Poirot is one of Albert Finney’s best roles.  And this is one of Christie’s greatest puzzles.  When a murder is committed aboard a train, a famous detective has until the train reaches its destination to solve the impossible mystery.  It’s such an irresistible story; it’s been adapted countless times, including as an American TV movie, starring Alfred Molina.  Most recently, Kenneth Branagh directed a 2017 adaptation, starring himself as Poirot.  It’s a quality production with some great performances, and it spawned an upcoming sequel I’m looking forward to.  If you’ve managed to never have this mystery spoiled for you, please seek it out at once.

2. Gosford Park 

Stephen Fry on the case.

In Robert Altman’s 2001 film, a murder occurs after a dinner party at a wealthy British estate.  Like most of Altman’s films, there is a huge ensemble cast.  The investigation is shown from both the guests’ and the servants’ perspectives.  The delightful comedian Stephen Fry plays the detective.  Julian Fellowes wrote the script.  He later created the TV show Downton Abbey, which was inspired by the film, and at one point was meant to be a sequel to it.  The movie received seven Oscar nominations.

3. Brick

Rian Johnson’s own debut film is a neo-noir, set in a high school.  After receiving a frantic phone call begging for help from his ex-girlfriend, and then finding her dead body soon afterwards, a teenage loner vows to solve her murder.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the detective this time, in one of my favorite performances of his.  This film has a twisty plot and hip dialogue full of invented slang.  The podcast Filmspotting named their annual Golden Brick award for Best Film by a new voice after this movie.

4. Clue

Was it Col. Mustard in the library with the lead pipe?

Yes, Clue is based on the board game.  I watched this movie endlessly throughout my childhood on Showtime.  Six strangers are invited to a mansion for dinner.  When the host is killed, they have to work together to solve the murder.  Tim Curry is brilliant as the butler.  There’s a lot of fun humor in this one.  How can you resist a comic mystery, with a cast that includes Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Susan Sarandon, Michael McKean, and Martin Mull?  One of my favorite things about this movie is that it has three endings.  When the movie was released theatrically, what part of the country you lived in/watched it in determined which ending you saw.

5. The Thin Man

If you’ve never seen The Thin Man series, you’re in for a treat.  William Powell and Myrna Loy trade barbs and imbibe alcohol as retired detective Nick Charles and his wife Norah.  They are accompanied by their faithful pooch Asta.  These comic mysteries are a joy.  The chemistry between Powell and Loy is amazing.  They made several other pictures together.  The Thin Man movies always end with an old school round-up of the suspects, where they build up the suspense before finally revealing who the killer is.

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Frozen Adventures You May Have Missed

Disney has finally given in to the demands of countless children, and made a sequel to their hit film Frozen.  I already have my tickets and will be seeing it opening weekend with my girlfriend, the world’s biggest Olaf fan.  (No, seriously.  I can’t sleep at night anymore because of all the stuffed snowmen staring at me.)  In-between the two films, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf had a few adventures you may not know about.

So, in case you’re a completist like me, here’s three Frozen adventures you might want to see.

Frozen Fever

This seven minute short debuted in theaters in front of Disney’s live-action Cinderella in 2015.  Elsa tries to give Anna a surprise birthday party.  However, Elsa has caught a cold, and with every sneeze she produces a bunch of “Snowgies” — adorable snowball-like creatures — who begin dismantling the decorations.  The cartoon features a catchy new song: “Making Today a Perfect Day.”

Frozen Fever can be found here:

  • Available for purchase on most major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.
  • Available as an extra on the Cinderella Blu-ray and DVD.
  • Available as part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack or streaming.  (There’s also a funny Tangled short in that collection.)

Lego Frozen Northern Lights

Frozen gets the Lego treatment in this four-episode TV miniseries.  Elsa and Anna journey to find the Northern Lights, which are invisible from their home of Arendelle.

  • This appears to be available for free on YouTube, with each of the four episodes running about 6 minutes.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

This twenty-one minute cartoon debuted in theaters in front of Pixar’s Coco.

Unfortunately, many audience members didn’t come prepared to see Olaf, and didn’t like waiting nearly half an hour for their Coco feature to start.

The cartoon was eventually moved to play after the feature, and then removed completely and made available on streaming sites.

During the first Christmas since the gates reopened, Olaf tries to help Elsa and Anna start some new holiday traditions, by finding out how the residents of Arendelle celebrate.

  • This is available on Blu-ray, DVD, or from major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.  It comes with six classic Disney winter/holiday-themed shorts.

Don’t hold it in.  Let it go.  With the RunPee app, you don’t have to wait for the credits to go to the bathroom.  We’ll tell you the best times to go so you won’t miss the best parts of the movie.  And we always have Peetimes for the latest movies like Playing With Fire, Arctic Dogs, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

The Essential Kristen Stewart – Her Best Films

The Charlie’s Angels reboot comes out soon, starring one of my favorite actresses: Kristen Stewart.  She began acting at age eight and has nineteen years of experience under her belt, giving her quite a resume.  So for anyone who wants to catch up on her career before the new movie, or who just wants to worship at the shrine of Kristen, here are her most essential films.

Panic Room

From a young age, Kristen Stewart had the chops to be an actor.  She gave a memorable performance in one of my favorite thrillers as Jodie Foster’s daughter.  The two of them are terrorized by three robbers and have to hole up in a panic room (an impenetrable room designed to keep homeowners safe).

Speak

At age 13, Stewart gave a mature performance in this made-for-TV-movie based on the popular YA book.  She plays a teenage rape victim who becomes an outcast and stops talking.  It’s heavy material that’s handled very well.

New Moon

This is easily the best of the Twilight films.  Stewart’s heartbreak as a lovelorn Bella is palpable.  This also has the best soundtrack of all the films….and the funniest scenes with Anna Kendrick’s Jessica.  This is probably the movie where Bella is most active in pursuing both Jake and Edward.

Adventureland

Stewart plays the girl next door in this comedy about a run down amusement park.  A welcome break from Bella Swann, Stewart is the more mysterious and unattainable object of Jesse Eisenberg’s affections.  This was their first pairing together.

The Runaways

Stewart went against type to play bad girl rocker Joan Jett.  Her performance helps to anchor this rock biopic, featuring Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie.  Michael Shannon steals scenes as manager Kim Fowley.

Snow White and the Huntsman

This is one of Stewart’s most commercial and best known roles outside of the Twilight films.  This dark take on the classic fairy tale doesn’t really get good until towards the end.  But once Stewart’s Snow White finds her power and begins to lead a revolution, you’ll find yourself wanting more.

Clouds of Sils Maria

Kristen Stewart became the first American actress to ever win a César Award (the French Oscar) for her performance in this film.  Stewart plays the personal assistant to Juliet Binoche.  Binoche plays an actress cast as the older character in a lesbian drama, who wrestles with jealousy and insecurity while preparing for the role.  There is some sexual tension between her and Stewart.

Still Alice

This weepie isn’t one of my favorite films (Julianne Moore should have won her Oscar for Freeheld instead), but Stewart gives a solid supporting performance as the daughter.  Her scenes with Moore feel authentic.

American Ultra

This is Stewart’s second pairing with Jesse Eisenberg.  This unexpected action film goes a little bonkers with the violence, but it’s a fun ride.

 

Personal Shopper

 

Stewart teamed up with Clouds director Olivier Assayas again for this haunting drama.  She plays a personal shopper, trying to make contact with her twin brother who has passed away.

—–

Kristen Stewart hasn’t garnered an Oscar nomination yet.  However, she keeps choosing interesting and surprising roles.  And she continues to play characters from all walks of life.  So it’s probably only a matter of time.

Don’t miss your favorite actress in her best scenes.  Get the RunPee app and you’ll never miss the good parts of a movie again.  We always have Peetimes for the hottest movies including Terminator: Dark Fate, Zombieland: Double Tap, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and Joker.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee.

 

Movie Review – Charlie’s Angels

Ranking the Terminator Movies

sarah-connor-young-linda-hamilton
No fate but what we make. (Man, does Linda Hamilton look young!)

Well, cool, I just rewatched the entire run of Terminator movies and realized it will be easier to rank them in order of greatness than I thought. For each movie (I’ll get to the TV show later), the best to worst go in order of first to last created. That made it easy!  How often does that happen? Here we go, and YES THERE ARE TERMINATOR SPOILERS through Genisys, but not through Dark Fate:

The Terminator Movies, ranked from best movie to worst:

    1. The Original movie (1984) — I realize that T2: Judgment Day is most people’s favorite Terminator outing, but for me it lacks the excitement and character building — and pure 80s fun — of the classic first time. Here’s my enthusiastic rewatch review of the classic film where Arnold first promised he’d “be back.”
    2. T2: Judgment Day (1991) — Although I wasn’t fond of the young John Connor portrayal, this was the movie that made me ugly cry when Sarah was about to shoot Miles Dyson, before backing off when realizing he was a good man. I was glad she couldn’t do it. When Dyson sacrificed himself, I kept on crying. There’s a lot of humor in T2 (some of it a bit silly), and it’s a very exciting sequel. There’s still just nothing like the first thrill ride in 1984. Linda Hamilton and Arnold really sold Judgment Day, but the whole Hasta La Vista attitude and focus on a young John trying to teach an AI to be ‘cute’ was…well… a bit too cute. This wasn’t as thoughtful as the original, and the move of focus from Sarah/Kyle to a juvenile delinquent John was less gripping. I’m not sure why T2 is most people’s favorite, but feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments below.
    3. T3: Rise of the Machines (2003) — I remember thinking this wasn’t as cool as the first two, but I think it was the lack of Linda Hamilton here, back in the early millennium. In my recent watch (all of them in one week, right after another), I now realize a few things: this is the best John Connor portrayal ever (TV show aside), Claire Danes was just lovely in the part, Arnold did a fine job in his three-quel, and the story ended up with an actual Judgment Day. All good stuff, as Golden Man wrote in his Defense of T3. If Hamilton had to bow out, I’m not going to complain about going after John’s best soldiers. My main problem is with the female Terminator. She was…fine. Not awesome, like Robert Patrick in T2. I’d have loved to see some of the sneaky wry moments Patrick imbued his T-1000 with. And he was a LOT scarier. Kristanna Loken as the third Terminator was frankly a bit dull. Sure, it was cool to have a female Terminator, but Summer Glau, in the Terminator TV series, showed that we could have had a lot more. Still, T3 felt like a Terminator film.
    4. T4: Salvation (2009) — I liked Salvation but it didn’t FEEL like the previous movies. There were nods to the previous films, but the tone was off. I think they should have added a half hour of character development & ensemble moments (like in Aliens, as a perfect example), added some more humor. It would have been just lovely. Another issue: it almost looked like T4 was filmed in black and white, which didn’t work for me. Everything was washed out or too dim. And a lot of great actors amassed for T4 were kind of wasted. For example: why get someone like Michael Ironside if you don’t write him some good lines? No wonder he didn’t even try to make anything of his part. I liked the film, I liked it….it just should have been a lot better. It did pick up with the character Kate from T3, which I appreciated, but most of the character writing felt lazy. One thing that does stand out now was how sad it to see a super young Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. I didn’t realize he was in Salvation. Awwww. 🙁  Yelchin did do a nice job coming across as a young scared-but-resolute soldier who John needed to train up. I could see the producers were going for a Terminator/Aliens/Matrix look, but it really didn’t go beyond moments of homage to better material.
    5. T5: Genisys (2015)  Well, this one hits the bottom of the Terminator barrel. I didn’t hate it, or even dislike it, but I can’t say it was good. I’m not sure it fit within the timeline cannon the others all followed so nicely, Dyson dad and son revisititations aside. And where was Kate, John’s wife? Going back to another timeline to follow Han Solo’s girlfriend was fine (ha! I only understand this reference from my re-watch), and ‘Pops’ was cool and all, but what the writers did with John Connor was inexcusable. Hello, WTF? The John actor didn’t look right, didn’t act the part, and his existence as a Terminator was a kick in the gut to anyone who cared about the franchise. I didn’t enjoy this one at all, although it wasn’t a ‘bad’ movie. It just didn’t sit well and made me a little angry. What were the writers thinking, crapping on the John Connor character? This was a misfire on so many levels, even though Arnold and Co gave it a good shot. Like I said, this wasn’t a bad sci fi film, and it was an okay “alternate timeline” for Sarah Connor, but it was too moody and…well, weird. I really hope the soft reboot of Terminator: Dark Fate returns to the adventurous tone and epic storytelling we saw in T1 and T2. 

Bonus extra: The TV Show: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-09) —

The TV show used an alternate timeline, with yet other Sarah and John actors, but was so damn great that it was a joy to watch as a serialized story on TV. Summer Glau made a wonderful Terminator. I wasn’t thrilled with Lena Headley’s Sarah, but everyone else knocked my socks off, and I was very excited to see how the narrative would progress.

Unfortunately, we never got to see that. When it was cancelled, I was sad. Not as sad, mind you, as when Firefly (another Summer Glau show) was cast aside before its time, but still a bit adrift. I wish I’d known where the John Henry/Cromartie story was headed…and what the final trip to the future was about, and where the loyalties of Shirley Manson’s Terminator were leading us…but we’ll never know.

So how to rank the TV show?

Honestly, it had so much potential. I’d rank it after T2, personally, although it really only got exciting in the second season and left us hanging for the third. I’d watch it again, absolutely. At least this time I’d be prepared for the looming permanent hiatus status, and could appreciate what we did get.

Terminator: Dark Fate Well, howdy ho; I’m excited. I’ll be seeing this one shortly, and understand the story picks up right after T2, creating cannon waste to everything that came after 1991. I’m okay with this, since Sarah, in the timeline from T3 and on, is dead.

And now what?

I won’t hide that I dislike reboots in general (Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica aside), but if Linda Hamilton and Arnold himself are co-signing this new edition, I’m totally on-board. Where it will fit in the overall rankings remains to be seen. Soon, soon…

A bit older, a lot wiser.

What is your ranking of the Terminator franchise?

In Defense of Terminator 3

Terminator: Dark Fate opens this week.  It’s the sixth movie in the Terminator franchise.  However, it is the official sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day…which basically invalidates Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, one of my favorite entries in the entire franchise.

Billy Crystal once joked that Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on to make Terminator 3 in exchange for everything west of the Rockies.  Terminator 2 was so popular that such an outrageous payday almost seemed feasible at the time.  Expectations for the third film were extremely high.

Unfortunately, lightning usually doesn’t strike twice.  I’m the first to admit that T3 isn’t is as good as T2.  However, it’s still a movie I enjoy and I feel like it doesn’t deserve its poor reputation.  So here is my defense of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Before we begin…

Yes, it’s a flawed film and I understand the problems people may have with it.  James Cameron didn’t direct.  Edward Furlong was replaced by Nick Stahl.  And Linda Hamilton turned down the offer to reprise her role as Sarah Conner, and was subsequently written out of the series.  Setting those things aside, can we enjoy what there is to enjoy?  Because there’s a lot.

Nick Stahl makes a decent John Connor.

Christian Bale’s portrayal of an adult John Connor in Terminator: Salvation is too moody for my taste and turns the character into a jerk.  I honestly don’t remember how Jason Clarke played the role in Terminator: Genisys.  (I mainly remember a good movie being ruined halfway through by an unnecessary plot twist.)  Stahl is a good choice to play the disillusioned young man who is uncertain of the future and his place in it.  I buy into his character enough that when the final scene comes, I’m ready for another hour.

It has a strong prologue.

The movie has a great opening prologue that builds audience sympathy for John Connor.  He is saddled with the burden of knowledge, the burden of leadership, the burden of greatness, and the burden of unfulfilled prophecy hanging over his head.

The first female terminator.

Kristanna Loken plays the T-X, the first female terminator in the series.  She also plays a newer model than Ahnuld, so she’s extremely powerful and gets to show off some badass moves.  Plus she looks good in leather.

LGBT representation.

Although Kristanna Loken didn’t come out as bi until she did interviews with Curve in 2006 and The Advocate in 2007 (years after T3 came out), it’s still inspiring to myself (and others) that one of the terminators is bisexual.

You have to love Claire Danes.

Claire Danes adds humor and a dash of romance to the film as Kate Brewster, John’s future wife and a key figure in the resistance.  Any excuse to watch Claire Danes for two hours is a good one, but this performance is especially worthwhile.

It has a great twist.

The movie has a great twist.  SPOILER ALERT:  It’s actually Judgment Day!  What could be more exciting than that?!  You get to watch history in the making.  The long rumored apocalypse is finally here and you have a front row seat.

The showdowns are so satisfying.

The action scenes between Loken and Schwarzenegger, from the car chase to the final battle, are all so satisfying.  The sheer amount of destruction in this film is amazing.  So is the fight choreography.  Rewatching the movie this week, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to defend it.  Instead, I was thoroughly entertained.

The ending is a great set-up.

The ending to this movie is a wonderful set-up to a fourth film that never happened and perhaps never will.  It’s Infinity War with no Endgame.  It’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One left hanging.  John and Kate are in a fallout shelter on Judgment Day.  How do you not want to know everything that happens from there?  It’s such a great set-up for a fourth film, a perfect place to resume the story, but no one ever picked up the ball and ran with it.  Not even in the comic books.  No one has gone back to the fallout shelter and told the story of how the resistance was born from there, how John Connor became a leader starting on Judgment Day.  (Terminator: Salvation shifts the storyline back to Kyle Reese.)  I’m still  hungry for that promised-but-never-delivered movie.

Don’t miss the best parts of your favorite sci-fi/action films.  Always use the RunPee app when you go to the movies.  We have Peetimes for all the latest movies including Joker, Zombieland: Double Tap, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

 

The Rules to Survive ZombieLand

zombieland poster 1991
Cardio, don’t be a hero…and CLOWNS? I have to agree with Columbus and Clowns. Sorry. Give me Zombies ANYDAY.

Here are the rules presented on the big screen in 2009’s Zombieland, one of the two greatest Rom-Com-Zom movies ever made.

(Just so you don’t have to guess, the other is Shaun of the Dead.)

With Zombieland 2: Double Tap coming out, RunPee thought a refresher on zombie survival rules was in order. Can you remember more than the first three?

There are 11 officially listed rules, but we don’t know them all from the first movie — ie, “Check the backseat” is listed onscreen as Rule 31. So this list is incomplete, based on Zombieland 1. Stay tuned, hopefully, for more to come in the sequel!

Here’s we what we learned from the first Zombieland film.

All The Rules to Surviving in Zombieland

1. Cardio

Columbus lists this as Rule Number One. Like escaping a bear, you just have to be faster than the other guys. Bonus points if you’re faster than the zombie. Remember, some are slow shuffling undead, and some are superhuman fast, but they are both still zombies. And hungry for you. Stay in shape.

(Also, like Columbus, you might need to circle your car enough times to find your keys. Nobody ever said zombies were smart. Just keep running.)

2. Double Tap
Columbus says, “When in doubt, don’t get stingy with your bullets.” You’ve got unlimited access to sporting and gun shop supplies. Use them. Why trust one head shot when you can have two, or more? Unload the whole damn cartridge if you’re annoyed enough.

And don’t prod the body with your foot to be sure the undead are dead. Don’t be like stupid people in movies. Use your Cardio and get the hell out.

BTW, Double Tap is the name of the Zombieland sequel. So we can’t underline the importance of this rule and neither should you.

3. Beware of Bathrooms
You are at your most vulnerable while sitting on the toilet, so always take extra care.

I learned this early on while watching X-Files…nothing good ever happens in bathrooms, while you’re setting up for a nice bath, or waiting for your bowels to move. This kind of thing has been spoofed in many films, but the song remains the same — just because you have your pants down doesn’t mean you’re safe.

What to do?

Zombies seem to sneak up on people who are at their most vulnerable, although zombies really just attack with no special circumstances. However, this does not change the fact that toilets are places you want to be careful around. The best way to stay safe is to check each bathroom before you enter, in every cubicle. Also remember: just because it’s not humanly acceptable to crawl under cubical doors, it doesn’t mean the zombies won’t do it.

4. Buckle Up (Canon: this is Rule 31, in-universe)
It doesn’t do to be hyper alert for zombies and clueless to the normal safely hazards of life. Seat belts save lives, even especially when the danger level is dialed up to 11.

Columbus’ life is preserved from this rule right in the movie. Tallahassee, though, can’t get any shits about mundane things like seat belts. Good thing Woody Harrelson is a big box office draw. That should keep him safe through the sequel, or even three-quel.

5. Travel Light

This includes both physical possessions and attachments to people. You never know when you’re going to have to kill your mum (see: Shaun of the Dead).

Zombies can surprise you at any moment, and you’ll need to make a fast get away, more often that you’d think — even from the slow undead. As well as using your well-honed Cardio to outrun the zombie(s), you’ll also need to be light on your feet. That means reducing the weight of objects you’re carrying with you. So instead of a bulky suitcase full of personal mementos, you’d be safer with a smaller amount of luggage, such as a backpack that’s easy to carry and won’t slow you down. Maybe bury your stuff somewhere for later retrieval when things blow over. If, of course, that ever happens.

Your heaviest luggage in Zombieland should be guns, ammo, blunt smashing tools, water, food, and medical supplies. Remember, in an empty world you can get these things almost anywhere.

And, yes, if you can find them, Twinkies last forever.

6. Don’t Be A Hero
Don’t stick your juicy blood-filled neck out for others if you wish to stay alive.

In Zombieland, the big risk is you might get eaten alive by zombies if you’re not always alert.

However, remember there are certain circumstances where this rule could, maybe, be ignored. Perhaps you want to save someone who makes staying alive worth it (because you love them), or you wish to ensure you have a partner to back you up when sleeping/smashing tourist items in tacky gift shops (see Rule 9 — The Buddy System).

7. Limber Up (In-Universe, Limber Up is Rule 18)

Don’t take too much time distracting yourself with the yoga before an actual attack, but in your down time, stretch and limber your body. You never know when you’ll need flexibility to get out of a rough situation. This goes along with the Cardio rule. Fitness is your best offensive weapon.

8. When In Doubt, Always Know Your Way Out
If you’ve seen any action films, you’ll know the importance of knowing backdoors, trapdoors, or even warehouse windows, anything offering an extra escape when you’re surrounded by hordes of hungry undead.

What does this mean? Look around and scope out the place. Prop open spare doors. Know your exits. Don’t go inside if  you don’t know at least a couple of ways out. Even Shaun got trapped in the Winchester Pub in Shaun of the Dead, even though he’d been there hundreds of times. Don’t let this be you. Indoors, outdoors…nowhere is safe. Your brain is your best defensive weapon (and apparently a tasty zombie treat). Know the way out.

9. The Buddy System

Are you alone? You might not last long. Sometimes you have to sleep, or cook, or poop (see Bathroom Rule), or maybe even have sexy times. Someone has to keep a look-out for you, and you for them.

It’s not altruism. It’s just smart. Humans are social creatures. Zombies are not.

10. Check The Back Seat

Ever see ANY movie, ever? The supposed hero gets into their car and…low and behold…in the backseat someone rises up to throttle them. Ugh.

This is just common sense. Check your seats. Always. Duh.

11. Enjoy The Little Things

Life in Zombieland is awful. Really. Almost nobody is left alive, and even your loved ones might now be brain sucking monsters. If eating Twinkies, breaking Indian pottery, or riding roller coasters are all you have left to enjoy, make those things happen.

In fact, life in Real-land can be tough. It only makes sense to enjoy the little things, no matter what. What things make you happy, even for a moment? Do them. This is a lesson Zombieland can teach us all.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap will be live soon. Let’s assume there will be more rules coming down the pike. I look forward to more dystopian life lessons. Got any guesses about survival tactics in a world gone nuts? Comment section is down below. 

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The Essential Will Smith

 

Gemini Man opens October 11.  The name Will Smith has become synonymous with  sci-fi action films.  Smith has had a long and varied career, even if his genre roles are my favorite.  I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid.  Somewhere I have a Soundtracks cassette of eight-year-old me rapping (or attempting to)  “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”  (Once upon a time, kids, we paid to do karaoke and they gave us recordings of it.)  On the eve of Will Smith’s latest movie, let’s take a look at his most essential performances.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Will Smith’s first significant acting job was starring in this long-running sitcom.  He played a fish out of water who left a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia to live with his rich relatives in California after getting in a fight.  But you probably already knew that from the famous, catchy theme song.  I had loved Will aka The Fresh Prince for his novelty rap songs like “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson.”  This show was what made him a household name though.

Six Degrees of Separation

This was one of Will Smith’s first movie roles and it proved he could play serious parts.  Smith’s character interrupts a rich couple’s dinner party claiming to be a friend of their Ivy League children.  He charms his way into their home but there may be more to him than there appears.  This movie, adapted from John Guare’s play, is the basis of the Kevin Bacon game aka Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.   (I can link Will to Kevin in 2 degrees.  Will Smith stars with Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.  Tommy Lee Jones stars with Brad Pitt in Ad Astra.  Brad Pitt is in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon.)

Bad Boys

Will Smith joined fellow sitcom star Martin Lawrence for this action film where they play detectives.  The duo proved to be so popular that not only did they make a second movie, a third one is slated to come out next year and a fourth one is in pre-production.

Independence Day

Man, I miss 1996!

This blockbuster set a precedent for a while.  It just wasn’t summer without a Will Smith movie, most of them coming out on Fourth of July weekend.  Smith plays a military pilot who helps defend Earth against an alien attack.  The special effects may seem dated today, but at the time the White House getting blown up by a UFO was the coolest thing any of us had ever seen.  The movie became the highest-grossing film of 1996.  The following summer would see Smith working with aliens again.

Men in Black 

Don’t look at this or they’ll flashy-thing you.

Based on a comic book, this sci-fi comedy blockbuster paired Will Smith with Tommy Lee Jones.  They made for a winning team.  They play secret agents who are part of an organization that supervises alien lifeforms on Earth and hides their existence from humans.  The movie spawned three sequels and a cartoon series.

Ali

Smith plays boxer Muhammad Ali in this biopic.  His performance earned him his first Oscar nomination.  (I’m not going to discuss his second Oscar nomination for The Pursuit of Happyness.  If you want to see Smith in an inspirational role, watch The Legend of Bagger Vance instead.  It’s much less schmaltzy.)  Sadly, this is one of those films where the movie isn’t as good as the performance.  But it’s still worth seeing.  Will Smith becomes Muhammad Ali.

 

I Am Legend

I still feel like Smith was within a hair’s breadth of getting an Oscar nomination for this role.  You can feel his loneliness and isolation as the last man on earth after a zombie apocalypse.  The scene where he begs a mannequin to talk to him is SO GOOD!  This is easily one of my top films of 2007.  It’s a change from the more humorous sci-fi roles of ID4 and MIB.  This one’s more serious.  And he still rocks it.  It’s amazing how they were able to film/create an abandoned New York City, especially Times Square.

Focus

I love movies about con men.  And this one has Margot Robbie to boot.  Usually, Smith plays the hero.  It’s rare to see him play an antihero (like in Hancock).  This is a fun movie with some twists.

Concussion

Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu in this important film about how football can lead to brain damage.  He was nominated for a Golden Globe but snubbed by Oscar for his performance about a doctor who takes risks to do the right thing.  This underrated performance is one of his best roles.

Suicide Squad

Deadshot putting up with Harley.

There aren’t words for how bummed I am that Smith won’t be reprising his role as Deadshot for the new Suicide Squad movie.  He made a great antihero, a villain you cared about.  He was a badass but he was also a loving father and made both halves of that believable.  He also had great rapport with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.  My only consolation is that he’ll probably play someone equally badass in the Marvel Cinematic Universe eventually.

Aladdin

No one else will ever be Robin Williams.  However, Smith brought his own original spin to the role of the Genie.  It’s hard not to enjoy this new version of the classic.

Don’t miss the best parts of Gemini Man or any of your other favorite movies.  Always use the RunPee app to get Peetimes for the latest movies like Ad Astra, Joker, and the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

 

 

Movie Review – Tangled

 

Movie Review - TangledI’m only 3/4 of the way through my first viewing of Tangled (yes, my 1st time) and I love it already so much I’m willing to give it an A+. Of course, they could screw it up during the climax and I’ll have to change my review, but so far I’m completely delighted.

Tangled: beautifully animated, very funny, and packs in a lot of adventure. I’m stingy with my A grades, and give almost nothing an A+, so this is a good endorsement from us at RunPee.

Great Characters

There’s a handsome Han Solo type of rogue. Which…yay! And of course there are amusing animal sidekicks. What’s cool is that both the horse and chameleon have a ton of attitude, which Disney doesn’t usually do. Actually, their “men” aren’t usually ‘jerks with a heart of gold’, except for Flynn here, and  Naveen in The Princess and the Frog. So this is kind of a treat. Ahem.

I smiled a lot, especially with the Snuggly Duck ruffians singing about their dreams. Really. What could be more cute than that scene?

This movie made me happy.

A Great Villain

Then there’s Gothel, the ‘wicked’ adoptive mother. She’s an awesome villain. Her songs are totally fun, and she’s actually nice to Rapunzel. She really is. She’s affectionate, goes out of her way to get Rapunzel a birthday gift, and gives the girl a decent life (albeit as a complete prisoner) with games, books, paints, a great kitchen, craft supplies, a lot of leeway for doodling all over the walls…pretty much anything one can do inside a nicely appointed tower.

Gothel’s not evil so much as selfish…but not completely unrelatable. She’s not about riches or power. She just wants to stay young and live. Ursula from The Little Mermaid is still my favorite Disney villain, but Gothel is surprisingly interesting. I liked her better than Scar from The Lion King, and he was previously my second favorite Disney villain. Good job, Tangled!

And a Disney Easter Egg or Two

I find one in the movie Tangled: a stylized depiction of Snow White’s Poisoned Apple painting on a stairway balustrade in Rapunzel’s Tower. Easy to miss, but it’s there.

Also, Rapunzel and Flynn show up at the Coronation scene in Frozen, which is pretty cool. Her hair is still short and brown. Disney doesn’t want to be a shared universe, but now that Pixar/Marvel have been absorbed by the Mouse, things are changing.

Tangled, Overall

I’ll be watching the last part of this movie tomorrow (I have to see Ad Astra tonight to get Peetimes) and really hope Tangled’s climax doesn’t let me down. I’ll be back soon to let you know if this is truly an A+ film.

UPDATE After Finishing Tangled: I’ll keep the A+. It met up with my expectations, even though I thought they could have wrapped up Mother Gothel’s story a little less gruesomely.  Put her in prison or something, like the Stabbington brothers, who were, you know, actually evil. I did love the return of the ‘dreamer’ ruffians, though. See? Some people are redeemable. (I really would like Disney to stop with the bad parent theme, like they did with Brave.)

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: This Disney classic was re-released in theaters this Friday. When I do Peetimes for Disney Princess films, I do my best to avoid any songs, which is what most fans want to see. Some exposition or mild plot scenes are chosen instead, but are well-summarized in the synopses. Tangled has 3 good Peetimes, so you won’t be lost when you get back from the toilet. Pick any.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Tangled. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for brief mild violence
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance

Movie Review – The Little Mermaid

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast

All the Disney Princess “I Want” Songs In One Place

moana disney princess
Singing to water and/or birdies is a Disney Princess thing.

What is a Disney Princess wish-filled ” I Want” song? Notice how all the girls — and some of the guys, IE: Aladdin and Snow White’s Prince Charming — have a song full of exposition about their hopes and wishes? This was even parodied in Ralph Breaks The Internet in a genius scene where the Princesses talk about singing a song and looking into water, leading Vanellope to find a puddle and sing her own ” I Want” song.

I don’t know why Princess Vanellope isn’t a proper princess, but I suspect she’s just too young.

ralph breaks the internet and princess venelope
Wreck-It Ralph himself- proof one can be both zero and hero.

There’s one official Disney Princess that doesn’t have a song — can you guess who this is? (Merida from Brave.) Also, Elsa from Frozen is not considered an official Princess for Disney marketing reasons, but she SHOULD be a princess, jeez, and Anna too. Elsa’s ” I Want” song is award-winning and beloved by fans. So I’m adding it to this list. Also, I really think of Nala from The Lion King should be a Disney Princess. She’s mated to Simba, and it says he’s a King right in the movie title. So her song is here too.

I’m rewatching each song clip right now to see if they all sing to some form of water. Can you guess which songs don’t feature water? I’ll write the answer below!

With no further ado, here are the all Disney Princess wishing songs with their song clips from You Tube — enjoy!

Snow White – “I’m Wishing”

Cinderella – “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

Aurora – “I Wonder”

Ariel – “Part of Your World”

Belle – “Belle (reprise)”

Jasmine – “A Whole New World”

Nala – “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”

Pocahontas – “Just Around the Riverbend”

Mulan – “Reflection”

Tiana – “Almost There”

Rapunzel – “When Will My Life Begin”

Moana – “How Far I’ll Go”

Elsa – “Let it Go”

Vanellope – “A Place Called Slaughter Race”

So, who doesn’t sing to water?

Rapunzel, for one, unless you count paint. Belle doesn’t sing to any water in her song. Tiana doesn’t either, unless you count a pot of gumbo. I’m easy. Who else? Aurora and Cinderella only sing to birds, which is very “early Disney.”

Which I Want Princess songs are your favorites? Tell us in the comment section below. (I’ll tell you mine there to get started.)

Movie Review – Ralph Breaks the Internet

A Whole New World – Aladdin Lyrics and Video (1992 Animated Version)

Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast

Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast

 

Movie Review - Beauty and the BeastWithout any doubt, the 1991 animated Beauty & The Beast is considered among the best of the Disney Princess movies, or any of the the Disney films. It’s from the period known as The Disney Renaissance that started with The Little Mermaid, and ran through most of the 90s. (I think it concluded with The Princess & The Frog.) This was an era that brought a faded Disney empire back into the hearts of people who love stories of adventure, and of Princesses.

Four of the best Princesses came from this creative Disney restart: Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and Nala (she may be ‘only’ a lion but as mate of the King, she’s royalty). In several RunPee Polls over the years, Belle’s always got the top spot as everyone’s favorite Princess.

So I want to give this beloved film an A+, but I just can’t, and that’s why I’ve been dragging my heels to write this review. I finally just decided to give my thoughts and say Beauty & The Beast misses that “plus” by a hair…and it’s not the hair of Belle or The Beast that brought it down.

What’s great in Beauty & The Beast:

Belle is a great role model — she loves books and adventure stories, and isn’t afraid to try to protect the ones she loves. She’s spirited and speaks her mind intelligently.

Belle’s also very nice to the furniture, which is a big deal if you know this classic tale.  😉

The Beast has a meaningful transformation that takes a good slow time to develop (the seasons change over the course of the film). He’s delightfully grumpy for quite a while, and his path to compassion feels largely earned. The two will probably make a good couple, and the message of “seeing beyond surface appearances” is profound enough.

What drags Belle’s movie down:

No, my main beef with Beauty & The Beast lies with Gaston. (Also, with the wolf scene, but I’ll get to that later.) Gaston is simply a bore. And not in the love-to-hate way. His character sucks life from the screen. Gaston’s little sidekick is intensely annoying (again, not in the good way). All the villagers seem like the world’s stupidest morons — from the first song Belle, through to the end with The Mob Song. I don’t understand how this village can possibly even function, given their apparent level of credulity and ignorance.

At least in The Lion King (who has a great main villain), the hyenas — also depicted as intellectually challenged — are amusing in their henchmen evilness. They also don’t just blindly follow whoever talked the loudest.

Anyway, all the scenes at the castle are simply gold, and if the movie focused more on the title characters and said furniture, we’d have a perfect film. Cogsworth and Lumiere aren’t quite Pumba and Timon, but come close. And that doggy footstool deserves a special mention: what a delightful idea!

There’s enough story to be told in the main narrative without manufacturing the Gaston side plot.

To be fair, I know they were trying to show that the “good looking” guy was a big jerk, while the scary, hairy Beast has a heart of gold, but the movie spent too much time with Gaston, his motley crew, and the idiots with the pitchforks. Either spend less time away from the castle, or make the other parts better. Too much creative time is squandered.

What about the wolves?

I did say I was going to mention the wolf scene. For one thing, it makes a great Peetime, since no one is seeing Beauty & The Beast for the action. But I also don’t understand Disney’s problem with wolves. Wolves don’t attack people. They especially don’t attack people riding giant Belgian Draft Horses like Philippe. I happen to like wolves and support their reintroduction to the wild, and was vastly disappointed with Disney maintaining their ‘wolves are evil’ stance in the 2017 live action Beauty & The Beast.

You know who gangs up on people like that in real life? Other people. They could have made the remake with a band of outlaws and moved away from the whole wolf thing… This is a personal peeve, and I won’t take marks from the film for it, but I do think it’s worth mentioning.

The animated classic, overall:

Had Beauty & The Beast been solid throughout, with an interesting villain and henchmen, it would be an easy A+ film. The Little Mermaid and The Lion King handle this effortlessly. The castle scenes are so fun and compelling, though, that I’ll say Beauty is probably the third best pre-Pixar Disney Princess movie, coming in with a high A score.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: The Disney classic is being re released to theaters on Friday. It was hard to make Peetimes, since I assume people want to see the songs in this 1991 classic, and there are a lot of them. I also didn’t want to have you miss the romantic parts. I chose 2 Peetimes during the silly villager songs, and one during an action scene, leaving you free to enjoy the best parts of the film.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Beauty and the Beast. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (G) N/A
Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy

Movie Review – Beauty and The Beast (live action version)

Movie Review – The Little Mermaid

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Rewatch Review – Disney’s Animated Aladdin (1992) – A Classic Film with Deeply Modern Flaws