Friday, July 25, 2008


“MAMMA MIA!” (Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Stellan Skarsgard & A Whole Lot Of Extras That Can’t Sing Either)
Father, forgive me for I have sinned.... I went to see the Abba movie... Before you sentence me, however there is something else I must confessed... I kinda liked Abba...
No, Father, I’m not gay; the only reason I went to the movie was because my wife had her heart set on seeing it, I was being a good husband –something I’m not adept at either... So should I go wash my ears out with holy water? What’s that? Why did I like Abba? Well, they came along in the late 70’s – You know, when disco ruled the music scene – so compared to that noise, they weren’t half bad – awfully tuneful those little Swedes. Plus, you know the blonde was a cutie-pie – had a nice set of vocal chords on her as well... Yes, I wished they had used her voice to overdub Meryl Streep’s warbling, but what can you do? If we’re done here, can I get on with my review?
Thanks Father, & a hearty ‘remember Huard’s Hail Mary’ to you, too...
If you can stomach actors who can’t sing &, like me, you didn’t find Abba’s catchy little tunes all that annoying because Agnetha Faltskog was so darn cute, then you’ll probably enjoy “Mamma Mia!” My wife sure did.
Here’s the deal; they took a bunch of Abba songs & fit them to a storyline... Well, that’s what they tried to do – it doesn’t always work! The story is strictly chick flick material –
Donna (Streep) had sex with 3 different men in the same month years ago & they all left the Greek Island she lived on, so she never knew which one impregnated her.
Now age 20, her daughter, Sophie (Seyfried – the only member of the cast that can ‘almost’ carry a tune) is getting married. After reading about her 3 possible fathers in her mother’s diary, she invites all 3 men to her wedding. Sam (Brosnan) Harry (Firth) & Bill (Skarsgard) arrive together on Bill’s boat (As fate would have it)
From there fun, frivolity & mayhem ensue in the form of characters breaking out into Abba tunes. Fortunately, some of the songs are edited so they fit the story. Unfortunately, “The Winner Takes It All” wasn’t one of them... The low-lite for me was the ‘butchering’ of this nice semi-heartbreaking song by the lead actress. What makes it sink even lower is the fact that it doesn’t have a place in the movie, so it not only sounds bad, it looks stupid & doesn’t make sense. Speaking of looks though, & I’m not one to notice this type of thing, but this is a very picturesque film – Quite colorful & beautiful scenery, for those of you who do enjoy that sort of thing.
The odd highlight (for me) was “Dancing Queen”, one of those catchy melodies that I did find annoying back in the late 70’s that works here as a joyful singalong involving the entire island.
It was one of the rare instances where the actors seem to have fun while doing something they weren’t comfortable with (Singing)
The cast is fine acting-wise, Julie Walters has always been a favorite of mine since “Educating Rita” many years ago & I found her character the most enjoyable here. There were a couple of uncomfortable scenes; one involving Christine Baranski & a poor young Jamaican-looking actor who had to pretend to have the hots for her; & another involving Colin Firth removing his shirt to impress his new found love...
Perhaps it was the ‘expectation factor’ weighing in – I went into this thinking I would loathe it, by the mere fact that it was the lowest form of movie making – the (ugh) ‘Musical’. But I only cringed a few times & thankfully on a lot of the songs the ‘chorus’
would become louder as the tune progressed, drowning out the actor or actress who couldn’t sing a lick...


“The STRANGERS” (Liv Tyler & Scott Speedman)
Yes, it was $1 Tuesday at Gateway & since none other than Stephen King wrote a glowing review of this film, I decided to check it out... Stephen may know how to write horror stories, but he doesn’t know a bad movie when he sees one...
It opens with a large splatter of blood on the wall of a house. The words James & Kristen arrived at James’ family’s summer home after attending a wedding.
A large bloody butcher knife is shown on the floor. We read that what we are about to see is based on a true story... We then read that NO ONE knows for certain exactly what took place . . . HUH? A true story that no one knows for sure if it ever happened???
One thing we can determine is that James (Speedman) & Kristen (Tyler) don’t survive because obviously one of them could have verified whether or not what we were about to see was true or not... right?
As the film progresses, 98% of the dialogue is spoken by James & Kristen – so I think it is safe to say the bulk of this ‘true’ story was made up!
At one point Kristen asks the trio that has been terrorizing them, “Why are you doing this?” I won’t tell you the 4 word reply she receives because if you ever decide to see this ‘suspenseful/tormenting’ film, you’re going to be very disappointed in that 4 word answer because it explains NOTHING. (& it’s the only explanation you’re going to get)
One of the main reasons this movie leaves you with an unpleasant odor in your nostrils can be blamed on the director. At one point one of the female ‘Strangers’ pursues Kristen with an axe in her hand as the heroine crawls away with an injured ankle. When Kristen stops & turns around – the woman has disappeared... What was the point of this? Why would the woman chase the potential victim with an axe & then suddenly disappear? Kristen never knew she was there – Kristen was vulnerable & ready to be chopped into pieces, so why would the killer stalk her prey just to back away before being discovered? That scene was contrived for the viewing audience only – which made it feel contrived, thus lacking any ‘real’ sense of suspense & realism.
It depletes the suspense factor when you make the viewer very aware that ‘this is just a movie, folks’... Bad directing.
The script (or should I say ‘pamphlet’) is so lazily written it’s as if the filmmakers are spitting in the audiences’ faces with outrageously obvious mistakes. After a creepy girl has banged on their door at 4 AM asking for someone who doesn't live there, Kristen mentions she’s out of cigarettes & so James leaves to buy her some. While he’s gone Kristen opens her purse & pulls out a pack of cigarettes...HUH? I guess the writer felt he didn’t have to explain his illogical script because everything would be explained with those 4 words he came up with to answer the question everyone watching this crap wanted to know – “Why are you doing this?”
One might ask the actors & producers involved the same question...

Monday, July 21, 2008


“The DARK KNIGHT” (Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine & Morgan Freeman)

I’m not saying this just to be different; I’m not going against the grain just to instigate comments from readers telling me what an idiot I am; As always with my reviews, I give a common smart-ass’s honest opinion of what I saw... & what I saw during “The Dark Knight” was not the best comic book movie ever, but one helluva performance by the late Heath Ledger in an excellent film that runs out of gas with an implausible finale... No, I’m not trying to say a world that contains a ‘batman’ & a ‘joker’ is plausible to begin with, but within the texture that the film creates, how one of the main characters changes so drastically is somewhat far-fetched. A hero doesn’t become a villain overnight.
Comparisons to “No Country For Old Men” came to my mind frequently & in the diabolical villain sweepstakes, I’d say Heath Ledger’s Joker stacks up well against Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh. Heath’s character is obviously more cartoonish; the best lines in the film all come spewing forth from his horribly disfigured lips. Whereas Chigurh was scarier because he was more realistic, The Joker ‘commands’ your attention.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons the film doesn’t hold up all that well, because when Ledger isn’t onscreen, you’re begging for his return - & the sooner the better. When he is onscreen, you’re fascinated by everything about him – the way he looks, the way he sounds & that all encompassing, ‘What is this spiteful lunatic going to do next?’
By having one of the main characters constantly flipping a coin to make decisions, they bring back that incredibly intense scene from ‘No Country’, so that The Dark Knight’s coin flipping scenes seem ‘weak’ & insignificant.
Christian Bale (Batman/Bruce Wayne) has a much reduced role in the sequel, spending more time in the ‘suit’ than he does as the millionaire. I always found it odd that Gary Oldman was slated to play bland police commissioner Gordon, as Oldman would have been cast as one of the maniacal Batman villains in the past. New to the crew are Aaron Eckhart as politician Harvey Dent & Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, a possible love interest for both Batman & Dent... Problem is, as much as I love Maggie as an actress, she isn’t a great beauty by any stretch, but she is presented here as though she were the most glamorous female in all of Gotham as two ruggedly handsome, well-to-do, powerful men vie for her attention. Maggie has a ‘cuteness’ quality to her, but she is not a great beauty... Two of the all-time great actors, Morgan Freeman & Michael Caine return in thankless, throwaway roles (Though Caine’s butler, Alfred gets to ‘act’ a little, Morgan’s involvement this time around is nearly invisible)
I’ll start with what works, & that’s two words – Heath. Ledger. Everything you’ve heard regarding his performance is true. At one point I actually took a moment to study his face during a close up & couldn’t believe that was the same guy who... pleasured Jake Gyllenhaal in that tent in Wyoming. Ledger’s Joker is a maniacal masterpiece of villainy; he schemes against other villains, he flaunts his self loathing of their simplistic plots by both outwitting them & showing absolutely no fear of death. He dares the Gotham City mob bosses to kill him. When a multitude of ‘fake’ Batmen appear in the streets & on the news, The Joker finds something new to loathe – ‘The Bat Men’ & decides to make it his ‘quest’ to force the real Batman to reveal his identity to the world. & he does so with a despicable ‘panache’. The Joker’s set ups to make the Bat Man chose who will live & who will die are ingenious (& of course aided by the fact that even though he kills of most of his henchmen in the first 15 minutes of the film, there are still plenty of recruits available to help him with his intricate plans to blow up hospitals, ferries & anything else that ‘annoys’ him)
What doesn’t work is the fact that there are scenes that don’t involve Heath Ledger... & they are, for the most part, boring. Boring in that, I wanted to know what The Joker was up to, not Harvey Dent’s involvement with Rachel Dawes!
What doesn’t work is hack actor Eric Roberts as a mob boss. What does work is what The Bat Man does to get him to talk! (The one enjoyable scene that didn’t involved Heath)
What doesn’t work is the character Harvey Dent; he is the crime fighting leader Bruce Wayne has been hoping for to lighten his load as Gotham’s one true crime fighter. Even though his hopeful girlfriend is falling for Harvey, Bruce still backs the guy with a fundraiser to help his campaign. I won’t spoil anything by revealing what happens to Harvey (Though who are we kidding – it seems like everyone on the planet went to see this movie!) But for the handful of you who haven’t – My complaint about Harvey is twofold – His abrupt personality change is ridiculous, though not as ridiculous as the fact that he skips thru the streets of Gotham when he should be in the intensive care unit at the nearest hospital – An idea solely created for ‘make up/special effects’ purposes turned this entire movie into a ‘joke’ for me... & I was having so much fun enjoying the ‘Joker’!
Yes, I will be the lone voice of reason & tell you this movie is over-hyped – “Iron Man” is still the best comic book movie ever made – The only question remaining is – ‘Who will accept the Oscar for Heath Ledger?’ because it will not only be the sentimental vote – it will be the correct one...

Monday, July 14, 2008


If you would like to leave your favorite line from 'Animal House' here, please do.
(Leave it as a COMMENT)
Let me know if you like this idea & I'll make it a regular feature on the site.
Any suggestions as to what films lend themselves to this type of poll, I'd love
to hear them!
You can also send me your favorite line at if you'd like
to vote in private - it will still count.
& if you want to use (bleeps) for the 'nasty' words, that would probably be best.
"(Bleep) her! (bleep) her brains out! Suck her (bleeps), squeeze her buns;
You know she wants it!" still works because everyone knows what the bleeped
words are!
So Movie Fans - Let's Find Out - What Is The Best Line From "Animal House"?


“MEET DAVE” (Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks & Gabrielle Union)

Isn’t as bad as you might think – actually it reminded me of ‘Hancock’ in that the best lines are used in the first half of the film – the exception being ‘Hancock’ was a good film for a while – ‘Meet Dave’ is just mildly amusing, so you’re not as disappointed when it falls apart completely for the second half.
‘Dave’ is actually a human shaped space craft designed after its Captain (Eddie Murphy)
Inside Dave are the miniature crew members making ‘him’ appear to be a normal human.
Their single mission is to locate an orb that will deplete the earth of its water. The orb missed its mark on its initial landing & was discovered by the dweeby son of the beautiful Elizabeth Banks (To be honest, the main reason I decided to give this film a shot)
Some of Dave’s attempts to acclimate itself to mankind are humorous; some fall flat on its face. For some reason I found myself wondering why – after Dave believes a ‘proper’ earth greeting is to say “Welcome to Old Navy” – he stops using it as soon as he leaves the store... It would have been funnier if he walked up to someone on the street & said, “Good afternoon, welcome to Old Navy!”
Yes, ‘Meet Dave’ has its moments in the early going, but once the alien crew members begin to take on human characteristics, the thing falls apart completely and becomes the second coming of ‘Pluto Nash’.
Gabrielle Union, though also a gorgeous woman, has absolutely no comic timing whatsoever. She plays the Captain’s #3 in command, who also happens to be in love with him... Hmm – sounds like a new twist, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s the problem, after starting off with a premise that could have led to an interesting, humorous tale - ‘Meet Dave’ turns predictable with hackneyed attempts at making the audience laugh. In fact, the only laughter I heard during the last 45 minutes of this film came from two gentlemen that sounded as though they were eleven or twelve; obviously not old enough to realize that what they were viewing wasn’t funny (I’m sure they found ‘Love Guru’ & ‘Zoran’ to be laugh riots as well)

KIT KITTREDGE: An American Girl


What’s more surprising than the fact that I went to see this ‘aimed at pre-teen females’ flick is that I actually liked it. Not a lot, it isn’t a ‘must see’ by any means, but as a story for young kids, it fits the bill. Too many child actors made me turn off my bad acting meter & thus, I was able to enjoy the tale more. The adult actors are fine with many recognizable faces; Stanley Tucci, Jane Krakowski (An under-rated beauty) Glenne Headly& Chris O’Donnell aren’t given a lot to do other than bring some credibility to the cast, while for some reason Joan Cusack, as a ‘whacky’ books on wheels driver I found to be tiresome – seen her in this type of role much too often & she just kinds of sleepwalks her way thru it; “Yeah, I’ve delivered lines like these a hundred times, just let me do it like I always have & let’s move on the next project” type of attitude prevailed, & I have enjoyed her work in the past.
As Kit Kittredge, Abigail Breslin is a cute, spunky little girl with eyes full of wonder – she looks every bit the part of the ‘All American (little) Girl’. She’s so adorable & perfectly matched to this role, it is hard to criticize her acting abilities; she is after all,
just a child. But if she’s going to be mentioned in the same breath as Dakota Fanning,
she’d better work on those acting chops because as of now, little Abigail, cute as she is, is no Dakota Fanning.
Set in Cincinnati during the Depression, Kit watches her unemployed father (O’Donnell)
board a bus to Chicago in search of a job. Her mother (Julia Ormond) moves Kit into the attic so they can take in boarders to help pay the bills. A magician (Tucci) a dance instructor (Krakowski) one of Kit’s schoolmates & his mother (Headly) move in, along with Cusack’s whacky book peddler.
The story concerns the ‘hobo problem’ developed by the increasing amount of jobless individuals that become homeless & sometimes must stoop to steal to feed their loved ones. A young lad appears with his much younger buddy at the Kittredge home looking for a ‘work for food’ deal. When Mrs. Kittredge’s strong box full of her and the boarders’ valued possessions is stolen, the hobo boy becomes the prime suspect. Hopeful journalist Kit sets out with her friends to prove his innocence. Kind of a Nancy Drew story for the pre-teen set, it is charming in its simplicity, yet at the same time quite depressing as well (Being set during the ‘Depress’ion doesn’t make for a cheery tale)
The twists are predictable & the sap “runs like molasses in the summertime, but me, you know, I don’t hardly mind”. Anyone who can tell me what song I stole that line from gets a free cookie from John Hancock... Unless you’re a heartless curmudgeon, I think it will be difficult to not have a smile on your face after viewing this film...

Sunday, July 6, 2008


“HANCOCK” (Will Smith, Charlize Theron & Jason(or is it Justine?) Bateman
Hancock’s premise is ripe for parody; A modern-day superhero that doesn’t particularly want to help the human race & has a problem with alcohol to boot. And for the first half-hour or so, it sticks to that formula & thus is extremely entertaining – the film garners ALL of its funny moments in the first half. In football terms, it is kicking butt, up 28-0 at halftime. Then when it comes out for the second half, it’s as if the actors just ‘coast’ to the end / director Peter Berg decided he was far enough ahead that he threw out his game plan so that in the end, the lack of laughs & a seriously demented U-Turn in the plot wind up making ‘Hancock’ a 31-28 loser in overtime...
Ah, but the promise of watching something truly original, with a dark sense of humor that actually makes you laugh out loud (Something rare for the ‘dark’ kind) is such a pleasurable experience, you’re actually ‘pissed off’ when it decides to stop being funny – OR original. Instead, it turns into what it hopes will be a ‘dramatic love story for the ages’ - & on that vein, it fails in every aspect.
Charlize Theron has dis-associated herself from this flick, as well she should – It is her character that pretty much ruins everything...
Will Smith, as always, is still likeable as Hancock, even though he could give a crap what you think of him. He helps the LAPD capture criminals because he has ‘Superman-like’ powers, not because he enjoys helping mankind. So if he causes several million dollars in damages while apprehending a trio of bank robbers, oh well, that’s the way it goes, folks – you have to take the bad with the good.
Justine (or is it Jason?) Bateman plays Ray the dork – You know, the same character he’s played in every movie you’ve seen him in lately; a loser at his PR job & not at all the type of father his son could be proud of - Ray is rescued by Hancock in his usual, ‘oh, what the heck, I’m here, I might as well save this clown’ manner. Hancock thus gains a PR man who wants to thank the unappreciated superhero by helping him change his image. Hancock reluctantly plays along, it would seem for one reason – The schmuck is married to Charlize Theron. (Problem #1 – why would a woman with one of the most beautiful faces on the planet marry an annoying loser?)
The laughs become sporadic as Hancock willingly goes to prison on his PR man’s advice. The thinking being, the public take him for granted – let’s see how they like life where criminals are allowed to ‘get away’ with their crimes; you know, like it is here in the real world.
When Hancock is released to come to the rescue yet again, he’s a changed superhero – he’s no longer an unshaven, alcoholic smart-ass with holes in his pants; he’s a clean shaven, reformed alcoholic nice guy in a tight fitting superhero suit... In other words, the typical run of the mill boring comic book superhero.
Charlize, though looking absolutely gorgeous throughout, has to take the blame for turning ‘Hancock’ into a joke that ISN’T funny – for when her secret is revealed, my eyes rolled back as I realized another film with a great premise was about to bite the dust big-time...


The only problem I have with “Wall-E” is that for some unknown reason many people seem to have fallen in love with it & brag it up to be something ‘special’... The first adjectives that entered my mind were; ‘charming’, ‘inventive’ & ‘cute’... Is it a wonderful film that I’m going to recommend to every movie fan I know? No, it is not.
Is it an enjoyable trip to the theatre that if someone were to ask me if it’s worth the time & money to see? I’d say sure, it’s a mildly amusing ‘charming’ little tale of a likeable little robot ‘box’ that falls in love with a hi-tech suppository-like robot & risks his life... er, ah, its 'existence’ to save her... er, ah, ‘it’ from being shut down by evil robots that want to keep mankind from returning to earth for some reason... (Kind of sounds like the idea Homer Simpson pitched to Ron Howard, doesn't it?)
Hey, it’s a cartoon, so I won’t dwell on whether or not the actual plot makes any sense – for a Pixar creation, it has more heart going for it than a lot of ‘human’ films...
Though he rarely speaks, other than the name of his girlfriend... er, ah, bot-partner’s name (Eve-ah; actually Eve, but Wall-E seems to have to pronounce two syllables whether they’re needed or not) Wall-E is a ‘cute’ little guy that everyone will instantly like, as well as his only friend, a cockroach that also survived ‘the end of the world’.
Set several hundred years into the future, “Wall-E” begins by showing the little clean-up
robot going about his daily task of crushing the trash that mankind has left behind into small cubes. He assembles the cubes into skyscraper-tall piles.
One day a probe sets down in Wall-E’s neighborhood & Eve emerges & starts collecting data. ‘She’ also has the ability to fire a laser that destroys everything in its path, so Wall-E approaches ‘her’ with caution. After Wall-E presents Eve with a present he found, she shuts down & is immediately called back from whence she came. Wall-E, having no understanding as to what is taking place, follows Eve by latching onto her space capsule. When they land, he learns what has happened to the human race & the story, though ‘inventive’ starts to get bogged down. John Ratzenberger continues his streak of appearing in every Pixar film by voicing one of the futuristic humans, but other than that the voiceover work here is more than a little on the bland side.
It is hard not to like ‘Wall-E’ it is a pleasant tale, worthy of spending a few bucks to view, but what’s giving it a bad name are those who are calling it ‘one of the best animated movies ever’ & suggesting that it might get an Oscar nod as one of the 5 best films of the year... That is ridiculous & creates an ‘expectation factor’ that cute little Wall-E can’t live up to. So trust my review, not theirs – For a cartoon, it is an original story that will at times tug at your heartstrings (As long as you’re able to buy into the idea that robots can fall in love) & you will leave the theatre with a smile on your face, but you won’t be ‘blown away’ or ‘amazed’ or believing you just saw the greatest animated film ever made...