Monday, March 23, 2015

Movie Montage #4

I've made my fourth movie montage! I hope you watch and enjoy it!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

This movie is so fetch!

Mean Girls
Director: Mark Waters
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert, Tina Fey
Released: April 30, 2004
Viewed in theaters: May 7, 2004

When I first saw this on the big screen, I left the theater not liking the movie. But I can attribute that to the bad theater-going experience I had with it as I've since rented the movie (and now own the DVD) and have watched it a few more times and it still makes me laugh.

Picture it: Omaha, 2004. I'm standing in line at the box office to buy a ticket to see Mean Girls. In front of me were six annoying 12 year old teenybopper girls. I was praying to myself, "Please let them be seeing New York Minute!" But no, of course they were going to see Mean Girls. Just my luck! One of them had a cell phone and was saying, "Blah, blah, why won't your mom let you come to the movie?" Haha. One of their friends wasn't allowed to see it! I'm walking to the theater and on the way there, I walk past a woman talking to an usher saying, "Theater 5 is completely out of control." Well, guess which theater I was in folks? :::rolls eyes::: Lucky me! Ugh. So I walk in and there is an entire row filled with young boys and girls. Then there's another row in the front filled with teenybopper girls and they were all clapping and whooping and hollering. Ugh, pre-teens are the worst! I see the usher standing near the doorway and he has an eye on the kids. Then the manager comes in (hilarious) and he goes to the two rowdy rows and he basically tells them (I couldn't hear everything) that if he gets any complaints about them, he's gonna call all their parents or something like that. The kids were pretty well behaved during the movie for the most part. During the Mathletes competition when Cady's team wins, there's applauding in the movie, so of course the obnoxious twerps in the theater had to applaud and whoo as well. So you see what I had to deal with? 

Cady (Lindsay Lohan) is a new student at a high school after being home-schooled when she lived in Africa for the past twelve years. She has trouble making friends at first until outcasts Janis (played by Lizzy Kaplan who has since become more of a known name) and Damien take her under their wing and tell her everything she needs to know about the students at the school. They warn her about "The Plastics", a trio of superficial and snotty girls that consist of the very dumb Karen (Amanda Seyfried), Gretchen (Lacey Chabert), whose father invented toasted strudel, and the Queen Bee, Regina George (Rachel McAdams - who was 27 or 28 when she made this, but she can pull off playing a high schooler!) Janis really hates Regina as we learn a backstory that they used to be best friend in middle school until they started drifting apart and Regina spread a rumor that Janis was a lesbian...except she used a much worse name.

This movie was written by Tina Fey (it was adapted from a book I've never heard of) and she also plays Ms. Norbury, the math teacher. There are other SNL alums peppered throughout the movie. Ana Gasteyer plays Cady's mom, Tim Meadows plays the principal, and Amy Poehler plays Regina's mom. She plays the "cool" mom, which means she is the worst mom. She wears these velour pink sweat
suits and serves the girls cocktails (non-alcoholic though, what kind of mom do you think she is?) She walks in on Regina making out with a boy on her bed and is more proud than appalled. She desperately wants to fit in and be the friend of these high school girls as she'll say, "So tell me girls, what's the 4-1-1?" And when the girls were performing a sexy dance to "Jingle Bell Rock" for the talent show, she was in the aisle doing the dance along with them. 

Cady gets invited to sit at the exclusive Plastics lunch table after they see her being harassed by Gretchen's ex-boyfriend and feel sorry for her (and also because she is deemed pretty enough to sit at their table). They extend their invitation to have her sit with them for the rest of the week and Janis and Damien encourage her to do it so they can find out all the awful details about the Plastics. Cady learns about all the stupid rules the Plastics have made: they wear pink on a certain day of the week, they can only wear their hair in a ponytail one day a week, jeans can only be worn on Fridays, etc. This is probably going to date me, but hearing all those rules reminded me of the Sweet Valley Twin books (the ones that took place when the twins were in middle school) and Jessica Wakefield belonged to the clique, the Unicorns, with the other rich girls and they always had to wear something purple everyday. Please tell me I am not the only one who remembers this! And Lila Fowler was the Queen Bee of that group. And there was also a girl named Mary and one named Mandy and was there an Amy too? I'm sure they had other rules too, but I only remember the purple rule. (Because purple is royalty!) 

"Stop trying to make fetch happen! It's not going to happen!"
Cady has a crush on Aaron, the boy who sits in front of her in math class. Gretchen and Karen are scandalized when they hear about this because he is Regina's ex-boyfriend. Gretchen tells Cady that dating another friend's ex is "against the rules of feminism!" Regina tries to talk Cady out of dating him because all he cares about is school, his mom, and his friends to which Cady replies, "Is that a bad thing?" Regina ends up back with Aaron just to spite Cady, infuriating Cady and she and Janis and Damien come up with a plan to ruin Regina George. They find out that Gretchen has been cheating on Aaron by hooking up with another guy in the projection room so they try all kinds of tactics to get Aaron to go there and catch his girlfriend with another guy including posting a sign saying that swim team will be held in the projection room after school. It's a funny joke, but is this guy really that stupid he would believe that? And he actually goes up there but Regina isn't there. 

Cady gives Regina nutrition bars and tells her they will help slim her down when in fact they make her gain weight. She also turns Gretchen and Karen against Regina when they're on a multiple-way call and over hear Regina say mean things about them. When Regina finds out all the things Cady has done (and her long, exaggerated scream made my cat's ears perk up!) she brings out the Burn Book, a book where she and the other Plastics have written mean things about other students and staff. Cady's only entry was when she was venting about Ms. Norbury and writes about her being a drug dealer. A high school teacher being a drug dealer? Who ever thought of such a thing?! Regina frames Cady, Gretchen, and Karen soley for the Burn Book as she has put her picture in there and has written that she is a "fugly skank" so she is not implicated to the  scandalous book. She makes copies of the pages and tosses them around school so everyone finds out about the mean things that have been written about them and there is a riot until the principal gathers everyone into the auditorium and threatens to cancel the Spring Fling Dance, but can't since he already paid for the DJ. He also threatens to keep everyone there all night if he has to, but then a teacher steps in and says they can only keep them until four, so he quickly has to adjust his threat. 

To help the girls express their feelings, Ms. Norbury has them do some exercises, including getting on a platform, say what they are sorry for and then have them lean back and fall into the crowd who will catch them. I don't know which one made me laugh more: the girl who tells her friend, "I don't hate you because you're fat, you're fat because I hate you" (What? lol!) and then it reveals she's in a wheel chair as she falls back into the crowd who has to catch her, or when Gretchen says, "I'm sorry people are jealous of me, but I can't help it if I'm so popular" and everyone moves away as she falls back and Karen is the only one to catch her. The vacant smile on Amanda Seyfried's face is just the funniest thing ever and it was so funny when the two girls are lying on top of each other after Gretchen has fallen on top of her. Although I do love Karen's speech apologizing to Gretchen for laughing at her when she had "diarrhea that one time at Barnes and Noble and I'm sorry now for bringing it up again."

The movie ends with everyone learning their lesson (of course) and Cady gives a nice speech about acceptance and all that good stuff after she has won Queen of Spring Fling. We find out the following year, their senior year, the Plastics have parted ways but are still amicable with each other. 

And since this is a teen movie, I must bring out my required teen check list!

Is there a party scene? Check
Is there a prom scene? Not prom, it's the Spring Fling, but close enough.

Is there a football scene? No
Is there a make over scene? Check
Is there a scene where all the different high school cliques are being shown? Check...and I'm pretty sure they added new ones in this movie! 
Was this movie spoofed in Not Another Teen Movie? No, this movie came out after that one, but there is a small connection as Lacey Chabert played the Jennifer Love Hewitt character from Can't Hardly Wait in it. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Good Morning, Angels

Charlie's Angels
Director: McG
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Sam Rockwell, Luke Wilson, Kelly Lynch, Crispin Glover, Matt LeBlanc
Released: November 3, 2000

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
Director: McG
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Demi Moore, Bernie Mac, Luke Wilson, Crispin Glover, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick
Released: June 27, 2003
Viewed in theaters: June 30, 2003

This is one of those (not-so-rare) instances where I loved the first movie and loathed the sequel. The first movie was a lot of fun and effortless and the second movie just felt like it was trying to hard. The first movie even pokes fun at itself in the first minutes of the film when one of our angels is on a plane (disguised as L.L. Cool J - don't ask...I mean she's not actually disguised as rapper/actor L.L. Cool J, (though that would be kind of awesome) but rather an African dignitary who  is played by L.L. Cool J in a small cameo) and the movie playing on the flight is T.J. Hooker: The Movie and he (she?) makes a comment about another retro TV series being turned into a movie. Moments later, the disguised Angel has apprehended the bad guy on the plane with the bomb, blown a hole through in the plane to escape with the bad guy and bomb (though most likely everyone else still on the plane probably died since, um, hello, DECOMPRESSION!!! That plane probably crashed into the ocean moments later!) and landed in a speedboat where the other Angels met up with her. We see "L.L. Cool J" take off "his" mask and it's Dylan (Drew Barrymore). Now I can believe the (ridiculously believable) mask and she had a voice box to change her voice, but how do you explain how she suddenly grew at least a foot? This was the only time in the movie any of the Angels have Mystique-levels of transforming into other people.

The Angels of 2000 are Natalie (Cameron Diaz), who is the happy-go-lucky one. She comes across as ditzy sometimes, even though she's actually quite smart and a bit of a nerd. And she loves to dance. Dylan is the rebel and Alex (Lucy Liu) is the studious, serious one. They get their assignments from their boss, Charlie, who we never see. He is voiced by John Forsythe who also voiced Charlie in the TV series (which I've never seen, but of course am aware of). His assistant, Bosley helps the angels out with missions, though let's be honest, they do all the work.  He is played by Bill Murray who wasn't in the sequel (smart choice) and was replaced by Bernie Mac who is his adopted brother. Or something like that.

What I like about their missions is that they're not trying to save the world from destruction like so many superhero movies are about. I understand that world destruction is the worst thing that can happen, but it can get a little tiring and redundant sometimes. Instead they are tasked to find a kidnapped computer programmer, Knox (Sam Rockwell), who has created a voice recognition program that is widely coveted. They come across a strange man who calls himself the Thin Man (Crispin Glover - George McFly himself!). He has a strange fetish with women's hair as he'll yank out quite a bit from the girls' heads and then creepily runs it under his nose. The Angels find Knox who is suspected to be kidnapped by the Thin Man and reunite him with his business partner, Victoria (Kelly Lynch).

But it turns out Knox and Victoria were behind the whole thing and were working with the Thin Man to fake the kidnapping! They are planning on killing Charlie at his beach house with a missile and the Angels must stop him. But before they do that, they must rescue Bosley who has been kidnapped. Dylan has been taken and tied up to a chair and in a scene ripped off from the one in True Lines where Arnold tells the bad guys exactly what he is going to do to them and proceeds to do exactly what he said, Dylan tells her captors what she's going to do to them and ends with the movie's most memorable line, "And that's called kicking your ass!"

There's a lot of dressing up in sexy costumes (like dominatrixes and race car assistants), although in one scene Natalie and Dylan are dressed as businessmen to break into the software company building.  All the angels have love interests. Alex is dating an actor named Jason (played by Matt LeBlanc, although he's an action star and not a soap opera star like Joey Tribbiani) who she keeps what she does from and tells him she's a massage therapist. Natalie meets a bartender, Pete (Luke Wilson) and they date in the first movie and get...a puppy in the second. Not engaged, like everyone thought she would. Dylan is seeing this guy, Chad. He's played by Tom Green and I had completely (and happily) forgotten about his existence until I was reminded of it when I saw him again. I don't know if Dylan was that serious about him because she ended up getting seduced by Knox and sleeping with him when he was trying to get information from him before she found out he was part of the bad guy team. Tom Green is so painfully unfunny in this that it's not even...funny. I forgot that he and Drew Barrymore were married for like 3 months around this time. He even ruins one of the songs on the soundtrack, "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"  because he sings a verse before the song starts and it hurts your eardrums.

Speaking of the soundtrack (which I own...both movies'), pretty much any song with "angel" in the title is in the movie. "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel" is in it. "Angel's Eye" by Aerosmith is in it. I'm pretty sure I heard "Angel of the Morning" during it.

Then we have Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle which is so bad. While the fight scenes appeared to be ripped off from The Matrix at times in the first movie, they could be plausible in the context of the film. There's a lot of action scenes in the second movie and there all so ridiculous and ludicrous. There's a scene where the Angels are at a motorbike competition (and Pink has a cameo as the person who starts the race and while this is going on, they're playing a Pink song, which just seems way too on the nose). The Angels are after their bad guy and there's a scene where the bad guy has gone up in the air on his motor bike, flips upside down, takes out two guns and shoots at the angels, does a flip and sits upright on his bike...all before landing on the ground! Of course, this is all done in slow motion, but there is no way in hell anybody could do all that in real time. How stupid do you think we are, movie?

This time, the Angels are trying to locate two rings, that when put together, produce all the names of those in the witness protection program. Yeah, totally ridiculous...but at least they stayed clear from going the saving the world from eminent destruction route! The bad guy, Seamus (Justin Theroux) needs this list because he used to date Dylan who we learn is part of the witness protection program. (Well, at least she didn't have to move to Omaha and work at Cinnabun!) Her name used to be Helen Zaas (and yes, they did every joke under the sun with that name) who dated Seamus back in the day, but when she saw him kill someone, she ratted on him and had to be taken into protective custody. They found out Seamus had been released "that day" and now he wants to get revenge on Dylan.

The other bad guy is Madison (Demi Moore), an ex-Angel who has gone rouge. She tries to kill the Angels (because she uses guns as opposed to just fighting) because...I really don't know because this movie is so stupid and I really didn't care. Oh...and the Thin Man is back! For no reason whatsoever. For some reason, I was sure they had killed him in the first movie, but I was probably confusing him with Knox. And in this movie he's HELPING the angels. Huh? When did this happen? He and Dylan even share a "moment" right before Seamus throws him off the rooftop of the building they're on top of and he falls to his death and Dylan is devastated that this guy she's been in love with for two seconds (and let's not forget...tried to KILL her in the first movie!) is dead. Just go away, movie. You're exhausting me.

Future douche bag Shia LaBouf is in the movie for about twenty minutes. His parents were killed by Seamus and I guess the Angels are worried that he will be his next target, so he is taken into hiding at Bosley's mothers house. I have no idea why he was even in the movie...maybe someone on this movie worked on that Disney series he did and wanted him to be part of it. Who knows. There was a clever cameo where Jaclyn Smith plays an ex-Angel, Kelly (which was her character's name on retro Charlie's Angels...I checked) who helps guide Dylan. A not so clever is from the Pussycat Dolls. Remember them? God, they are the worst. I think this was back when they were popular. The Angels have to do a sexy dance to...get something from a bad guy. I don't remember and I don't care.

There was one funny moment where they're at a crime scene and spoof CSI: but that's the only nice thing I can say about this movie. It is just so awful! They have the girls dance to "Can't Touch This" for no reason other than it's funny! Every time the girls try to escape from being killed, they jump up in the air and do a slow motion. Every damn time! There are stupid sound effects that make it seem like you're watching a Saturday morning cartoon. It is so bad! I can't, I just can't!

So here is my verdict:
Charlie's Angels - Heaven
Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle - Hell

Monday, March 9, 2015


The Accused
Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Cast: Jodie Foster, Kelly McGillis
Released: October 14, 1988

Oscar nominations:
Best Actress - Jodie Foster (won)

The Accused is about a woman (Jodie Foster) who is gang raped at a bar and her lawyer (Kelly McGillis) wants justice and have all the men (those involved in the rape AND the ones watching) put away. While watching this, I kept expecting a twist. While Kathryn (the lawyer) does find out things about Sarah (Foster's character) that aren't great for a jury to hear on a rape case such as she does drugs and is promiscuous and was wearing a skimpy outfit that night she was raped, I was expecting Sarah to want the men to have sex with her so she could accuse them of rape because she wanted to get back at them for some other reason...but that was not the case...literally. I guess now I'm just so used in seeing twists in movies and TV shows I watch, I thought this movie would be no different. I probably should have watched the trailer first (I like to watch them after the movie so I'm not spoiled by anything) because it would have told me straight that this is a movie about a woman who is raped and how she and her lawyer want to take down the men who did this to her. There are no hints of twists or ambiguity. 

While all the men involved in the rape (either participating or watching) are all meat-headed neanderthals, there is one younger guy who obviously is uncomfortable about the whole thing and knows what's going on in front of him is wrong...although he just stands there and watches and doesn't call the police until AFTER Sarah has attacked a guy and gets the opportunity to run away. His name is Ken and Kathryn finds out he was there the day the rape happened because she notices his name on an arcade game with the date next to it. (Sidenote: Don't people usually put their initials when they get a high score on an arcade game? He had written KEN next to the score. Not that I really know anything about this because my name is more than three letters, plus, I never play arcade games and when I do, I certainly never get a score high enough to get on the board!) Kathryn looks through some yearbooks to find this Ken and I had to freeze the frame because there was a guy in the yearbook with the name of "Richard Dick". Okay, obviously this was some stupid joke because "Dick" is a nickname for "Richard" (God only knows why!) Why they are having a "Dick" joke in a movie about rape just seems a bit insensitive to me! Did you really go there, movie? Or maybe I'm just over thinking this and that guy's name is actually Richard Dick and his friends probably call him Dick Dick. Poor guy. His parents are just awful.

So Ken is put on the witness stand and he tells what happened that night. Sarah is put on the stand too but because she was drunk and seemed to be flirting with the guy who initiated the rape, they think she might not be the best witness. Ken tells what happened and it just seems so ridiculous that this rape happened the way it did. She was flirting with a guy who she thought was cute and a song she likes comes on the juke box (and it wasn't a real song, it was just some generic pop music which was amusing...I guess nobody wanted them to allow to use their song during a brutal rape!) Now she's drunk and her top is falling off and she looks like a total idiot, but it's obvious she is inebriated. The guy forces her onto a pinball machines and even though she is struggling and screaming, rapes her, then has these other guys who are watching and egging him on, to "have a turn" too. Now while this is going on, in the other room, a bunch of people are sitting at the bar, drinking and watching TV. Did they not hear a girl screaming and all those men shouting? I really found that hard to believe that NOBODY did anything. Except for Ken who called the cops after Sarah had escaped. It was a horrible scene to watch, but at the same time, I just didn't buy it, you know? Okay, so I just did some research on Wikipedia and apparently this is based on a true story of a 21 year old girl who was raped on a pool table by four guys at a bar in 1983 while the patrons did nothing. That's disturbing. I would hope that wouldn't happen in this day and age. And she went through all that only to die in a car accident three years later. (That did not happen to Sarah in the movie...all the men who who were involved were convicted.) That reminds me of this woman who worked at the World Trade Center and survived 9/11, only to be in that fatal flight only a couple months later when the horizontal stabilizer snapped off and the plane crashed in a neighborhood in Queens. It's just sad when someone survives a truly horrendous event, only to die in a freak accident a few years or months later.

Well, this was a depressing review. My next review won't be, that I can promise! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

O Captain! My Captain!

Dead Poets Society
Director: Peter Weir
Cast: Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Josh Charles, Kurtwood Smith
Released: June 9, 1989

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Driving Miss Daisy)
Best Director - Peter Weir (lost to Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July)
Best Actor - Robin Williams (lost to Daniel Day-Lewis for My Left Foot)
Best Original Screenplay - Tom Schulman (won)

One of the late Robin Williams' greatest and most beloved roles was that of English professor John Keating who teaches at Welton Academy, an all-boys boarding school. This film gave us many quotes such as "O Captain! My Captain" which I saw written as many Facebook status updates as a tribute to Williams the day he died and "Carpe Diem"/"Seize the Day".  

The film takes place in 1959 and it's also Mr. Keating's first year of teaching at Welton. His young students include the shy Todd (Ethan Hawke); his roommate, outspoken Neil (Robert Sean Leonard);  romantic dreamer Knox (Josh Charles); stickler-for-the rules Richard (or "dorky redhead" as I call him!); and rule-breaker Charlie. And there's others I'm sure I'm forgetting. While all the students work together as an ensemble, it's Neil who is the leader and has the most screen time of any of the other young men. His passion is to be an actor, but his strict father (Kurtwood Smith) wants him to be a doctor. I wish I could say that he got his wish and Neil went on to become a successful doctor and I could make a House (because Robert Sean Leonard would go on to play Wilson in House!) joke here, but that doesn't quite happen.

Mr. Keating is unlike any teacher the boys have ever had at Welton Academy. After they have attended their history, science, and math classes with the usual lectures, they become unsure when they're in Mr. Keating's English class and he has told them to rip out the entire introduction of their textbook. The learn about an absurd method about how to rate a poem involving a line graph (please tell me this isn't real!) and Keating tells them it's a load of garbage and to tear out the pages of the introduction. Richard, who had been taking copious notes, is confused when Keating erases the graph off the chalkboard and quickly scribbles through the graph he had just drawn. The boys are all uncertain at first, but then more confidently start tearing out the pages they are instructed to rip out.

Keating tells them about a secret society he once belonged to when he himself was a student at Welton, the Dead Poets Society, where he and other students would meet in secret and read poetry. Neil, the fearless leader, decides to get this tradition rolling again and he and the other students meet in a cave at night to read poetry from a book and recite their own. They also joke around and gossip and philosophize.

Because of Mr. Keating's class and his motto to "seize the days", his young students start feeling more confident. Knox (who would later go on to become lawyer Will Gardner on Good, Welton Academy really is a good school as it produces doctors and lawyers!) gets the courage to woo a girl from a public school who already has a boyfriend (and gets beaten up by him in the process!) Mr. Keating encourages the timid Todd to come out of his shell when he is reluctant to read a poem he has written in front of the class which was assigned to all the students to do. Keating tells him to close his eyes and forget that the other students are in the same room.

Neil, the aspiring actor, tries out for A Midsummer's Night Dream and gets cast in a lead role. In order to be in the play, he must have permission from a parents, so he forges a letter, pretending to be his father. Of course, his dad finds out and is furious and forbids Neil to be in the play. Neil gets advice from Mr. Keating to tell his father how he really feels and he wants to pursue acting instead of a medical career, but Neil never gets the courage to stand up to his father. He still remains in the play and we see his father come in to watch. I thought he might have a change of heart after seeing how happy his son was and how seriously he took acting, but instead he punishes him by telling him he is being shipped off to military school the next morning. Neil fatally shoots himself with his father's gun and we see a heartbreaking scene where his father finds him in his office on the floor behind the desk.

Mr. Keating's ways of teaching is frowned upon by the school board and he is fired. In one of the most memorable scenes of the movie, while he has come back to the classroom to pack up his things while a lesson is going on, we see Todd keep glancing at his former teacher and it is obvious he wants to say something, but is still too reserved to do so. As Mr. Keating is walking away, he blurts out it was unfair he was fired. He stands on his desk in an act of defiance and is followed suit by the other students who also agree with him. In an earlier scene, Mr. Keating had everyone stand on his desk to see the world from a different perspective. The music swells, Mr. Keating is getting tears in his eyes and so am I. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Practical Magic
Director: Griffin Dunne 
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Diane Wiest, Goran Visnjic, Aidan Quinn, Evan Rachel Wood
Released: October 16, 1998

This is based on a novel by Alice Hoffman. I figured the novel must be much better and more fleshed out than the movie since a lot happens in the film but is quickly glossed over, so I was sure that the book must go more in depth, which I'm sure it does, but when I was reading reviews of it on Goodreads, I was surprised that many people said that the movie was better than the book. Because the movie really isn't that great. It's not sure if it wants to be a comedy or a romance or a dark supernatural it's a bit of a trifecta of all three. 

Sally and Gillian Owens (Bullock and Kidman) are sisters who are witches. Just like Sabrina (heh!), they are raised by their aunts, Frances and Bridget (Channing and Weist). Older sister Sally is the more practical one while Gillan is the free-spirit. At a young age, the girls learn of the curse that has overshadowed their family for decades: any man who falls in love with someone in their family is doomed to die. Now that's something you don't want to reveal on the first date! Sensitive Sally is horrified by this news and casts a spell on herself so she will only fall in love with a certain type of man who is seemingly too good to be true that there is no chance he can even exist. Gillian, however, is not phased at all by this and can't wait to fall in love, or, to be more accurate, sleeping around.

When the girls become young adults, Gillian goes on her way to start her tour of having love affairs and breaking hearts. Sally stays back with her aunts in their small town. One days she sees a good-looking man walking down the street and smiles at him. A few minutes later we see them running towards each other and embracing and the next thing we know they are married and have kids. Well, shocker of all shocks, we come to find out her aunts saw she liked him and put a love spell on both of them so they would fall in love. (You could say she drank some Love Potion #9! Yes, I went old-school Sandy Bullock reference for that!) There must be some unwritten prophecy that every Owens woman must have two daughers: one brunette and one redhead with bangs. Because Sally and her husband have two girls who fit this description as well. A young Evan Rachel Wood plays her daughter with the red hair. At first I was confused and thought she was supposed to be Gillian's daughter because she looked so much like her! 

The curse still holds and Sally's husband is killed. It is the most unbelievable death. First, it was laughable because we are meant to think he is going to be killed by being run over by cyclists (he's out in the street during a bike marathon or something), but then we see that he is hit by a car even though he had already been in the middle of the street, frozen as the cyclists go around him. Obviously the car saw there was a person standing in the middle of the road and had plenty of time to slow down. It was just so stupid. But he dies and is never spoken of again. 

Gillian has fallen victim to an abusive man, Jimmy (Goran Visnjic) who likes  to drink a little too much. When she becomes scared, she calls Sally to come get her. Jimmy ends up kidnapping both of them and only wanting to drug him, Sally gives him a sleeping potion, but it ends up killing him. The sisters freak out because they don't want to be put away for murder, so they take him back to their house where they will perform a simple resurrection spell, which, if we've learned anything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is NEVER a good idea! (Unless you die of a supernatural death, of course! And even that is never a good idea.) This involves having to draw a star on the deceased's stomach and Sally uses a can of Readi-Whip to do that which is hilarious.  And I love that she dips her finger in the whipped cream and licks it off. As soon as Zombie Jimmy is alive again, he immediately starts to choke Gillian and Sally hits him with a frying pan, killing him...again. They bury him in their backyard.

A detective named Gary (Aidan Quinn) from Jimmy's hometown comes up to inspect Jimmy's disappearance and is wary of the sisters. Turns out Gary has all the qualities that young Sally wished in the man she could never fall in love with. He can flip pancakes! He has one blue eye and one green eye! His favorite shape is a star because he has a badge shaped like one! I don't want to spoil anything by saying they get together in the end...but guess what? They fall in love!

Jimmy's spirit has possessed the body of Gillian and Sally and her aunts hold an exorcism to get rid of it. In order to do this, there must be a circle with a certain amount of people so they have to invite other women from their small town to help them. Margo Martindale plays one of those women who works at the apothecary shop Sally owns and runs.

The  director, Griffin Dunne, is probably most recognized for his acting roles.  He played Vada's poetry teacher in My Girl and played a judge on an early season of The Good Wife. 

The best thing about this movie was that the small town scenes were filmed in Whidbey Island, Washington...and I have been there before! It is an amazing location. I wish I had known that before I watched the movie because then I would have paid more attention to see if I recognized anything.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

I Take You With Me

Boys On The Side 
Director: Herbert Ross
Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker, Drew Barrymore, Matthew McConaughey, James Remar
Released February 3, 1995

Spoilers for a 20 year old movie...just in cases! 

This movie came out when I was in middle school and I remember seeing it in the theater with my mom. While I remember that, I didn't remember anything about the movie except the singalong to "You've Got It". And that Mary-Louise Parker's character dies at the end. Well, she was still alive at the end, but it was implied she died although for some reason, I remember a funeral scene. It's funny what your mind chooses to remember and what not to remember. Other than that, I didn't remember anything so I decided to see it again. I didn't even look at the rating on the DVD cover because I just assumed it was PG-13. Nope, it's an R. I was shocked that my mom let me see this movie as a young middle schooler! There is language in this movie that would make even Nancy Botwin blush! 

This movie reminded me a bit of Steel Magnolias (a group of women with a friendship and one of them is dying and one of them has a baby....luckily it's never been the same woman!) and then I realized it's directed by the same director, so there you go. This movie reminded me of a cross between that one and Thelma and Louise since the group of women are on a road trip. (And Whoopi Goldberg even makes a crack about how she's not driving over a cliff for the others). 

Jane (Goldberg) is a lounge singer in New York who has broken up with her girlfriend and has been fired from her job so she is looking to start over somewhere. She meets Robin (Parker) who has placed an ad in the paper that she is looking for someone to accompany her on a trip to California. I can tell you one thing, there is no way I would ever let a stranger join me on a road trip. That could end up either being very dangerous...or very irritating! But both women agree on taking the trip together and drive to Pittsburgh so Jane can see her friend, Holly (Barrymore). While traveling, we see the first glimpses of Robin acting odd. They have to stop at a fast food place because Robin gets sick. She tells Jane it's just allergies, but I knew (or thought I knew!) she had cancer. Well, no, I was wrong. I THOUGHT she had cancer because I guess that's what I remembered, but no, she has AIDS. Because this was 1995 and AIDS was all the rage in the '90s! It was kind of weird she had AIDS because she was this very uptight woman...she didn't look like the type to use drugs of have unprotected sex. I guess they just wanted to show us anybody could get AIDS? I don't even know how she got them.  

Hey, hey, hey, it's McConaughey!
When they pick up Holly, her abusive and drunk boyfriend is with her and won't let her go until he gets his drug money that he thinks she's stolen. Holly hits him with a baseball bat and the women tie him up. While they are gone, he tries to get to a phone, but ends up falling and hitting his head and dies. When they see this in the paper, the other two convince Holly to join them because she can't go back. She reveals to the others that she is pregnant. They make it to Tuscon before they have to settle there because Robin has gotten really sick and needs medical care. I believe this is when Jane and Holly (and the audience) finds out that Robin has AIDS. 

Holly starts seeing an old friend, a young cop played by a young  and pre-famous Matthew McConaughey (who, ironically won an Oscar for portraying a man with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club. It's like the circle of life, film style!) He finds out about her dead boyfriend and is torn between his feelings for her and obeying the law as his duties as a cop. Even though Holly goes to court and serves a short sentence, they end up married. Oh, and she names her daughter Mary Todd because McConaughey's name is Abe. :::GROAN::::  

Jane and Robin live in a house together with Holly and Abe until they have a fight and Jane moves out.  While at a bar, they meet some people and one of them is a guy (Remar) who appears to be interested in Robin and Jane tells him that she has AIDS just so he already knows and Robin doesn't have to worry about having that awkward conversation so Jane thinks she's doing Robin a favor. One night, Robin and the guy get really drunk and pretty much start having sex outside right in the open. I mean, really! They do make it to a hotel room before clothes start coming off, but when Robin is about to tell him about her condition, he tells her he already knows and that he has come protected. I can understand why Robin was so upset, but at the same time, shouldn't she be relieved that at least he already knows and seems to be okay with it? (Obviously as he has his hands all over her).  It doesn't surprise me that this guy was willing to have sex with her because he seemed like he would do it with anyone...he even makes a comment earlier in the movie about how hot the bar owner's 12 year old daughter is. It was really creepy.

Robin finds out Jane told him about her AIDS and that's why they have a fight t Jane moves out. When Robin's mother comes to visit, she is aghast when she learns that a lesbian (and a black one to boot!) has been living with her daughter! She should meet Keira Knightley's mother from Bend it Like Beckham! 

Like I mentioned earlier, the only scene I really remember is when Jane and Robin sing "You've Got It" to each other in a room full of people. It's a very sweet moment and got me choked up. 

This movie came out twenty years ago nearly to the day...and did you know that Drew Barrymore turns 40 this month? She was a very young 19 when she was in this movie and yet it seems like she had already been around forever! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ridiculous Coincidences

Director: Peter Chelsom
Cast: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon, John Corbett, Bridget Moynahan, Eugene Levy
Released: October 5, 2001

I didn't see this movie when it was out in theaters, but I did see it on a theater screen on February 13, 2002 when my school screened it for free in the auditorium. My dorm was right next to the building with the auditorium so it was very convenient for me! Other movies I saw there (all free...who doesn't love a free movie?) include Vanilla Sky, Pearl Harbor, Not Another Teen Movie, Training Day, The Mummy Returns, and Legally Blonde. Pretty much any movie that was released in 2001!

It doesn't surprise me that they chose the week of Valentine's Day to screen this movie because it is a romantic comedy, but not as vapid and stupid as most romantic comedies can tend to be. You do need to suspend your belief at times with this film, otherwise you might be rolling your eyes and muttering, "What the...." or "Wait a is that even possible?" If you just sit back and enjoy the movie, it's very easy to do.

Sara (Beckinsale) and Jonathan (Cusack) bump into each other at Bloomingdales while Christmas shopping and both grab for the last pair of black gloves they both want. Even though they both have significant others, they shamelessly flirt with each other (and Jonathan even confesses his attraction to her...but who can blame him, Kate Beckinsale is a very attractive woman and she has a very adorable British accent) and share an ice cream sundae at a place called Serendipity where Sara explains to him why she loves the name of this ice cream parlor and what serendipity means. This all happens within in the first five minutes of the movie so they established the title of the movie pretty quickly!

They continue their quasi-date by going ice skating at Rockerfeller Center. Sara falls and cuts her arm and they make it seem like blood is gushing out of her arm, but in the next scene when Jonathan is putting a band-aid on her arm, there is no scratch on her at all! They are still flirting with each other and it's obvious they like each other and it's like just break up with your other significant others already! Sara, being into things happening for a reason wants to be sure they are meant to be together and makes him do things only a beautiful woman with an adorable accent could get away with and still have the guy want to pursue her. She does this because when Jonathan was handing her number to her, a gust of wind swept it away and she thought it was a sign they weren't suppose to have any more contact. Instead she comes up with the idea of writing her name and number in a copy of "Love in the Time of Cholera" and tells him she's going to sell it to a random used bookstore tomorrow and if he ever finds it, then it will be a sign. She tells Jonathan to write his name on a five dollar bill and goes to a newsstand to buy something with it and if that bill makes back to her, then it's a sign.

Okay. Let's think about this rationally. I can buy the book being found even though there has to be hundreds of used book stores in New York. Obviously it's a well-known book and there are lots of copies (as we do see in the movie because he checks every copy of it to see if it's the one she had). But how many five dollar bills are in existence and this particular one could easily travel out of the city. Would it be a spoiler to say that both items come back into the movie?

Before they part ways, Sara has one more crazy experiment she wants to try. They go to the Waldorf Astoria where she tells him they will take separate elevators and if they both push the same button and end up on the same floor, then it's a sign they should be together. Why they just don't give each other their numbers and tell them they'll call the other if it doesn't work out with their current relationships, I don't know. So of course we see they both push the same button in their separate elevators (23) even though there are 47 floors. So that would never happen. Let's be real here. That would be really crazy odds for that to ever happen. Except that Jonathan has a father and a kid (dressed in a devil costume even though it's not Halloween....I guess they wanted to symbolize he was a terror?) who gets on the elevator and the kid pushes all the buttons thus making it take forever for Jonathan to reach his destined floor. He does cheat by checking every floor to see if Sara is there. She waits for him for awhile, but eventually, dejectedly leaves.

A year passes and to show time we have a montage of seasons passing, shadows, sun dials, and clocks. Why they just couldn't have a simple "One year later" on a black screen, I don't know. We see Jonathan at a big gathering where he is being toasted for his current engagement. We never see the woman he is next to, just her hand on his shoulder and we are all waiting with bated breath to see if it is Sara...but as the camera slowly pans over, we see it is not. It is Holly (Moynahan) who has nothing to do except to look pretty and tell Jonathan he's been acting distant lately. Jeremy Piven plays his best friend and gives the toast. Even though Jonathan's set to marry Holly in just a few days, he's still thinking about Sara.

Meanwhile, Sara is in San Francisco. Her best friend is played by Molly Shannon and her boyfriend, Lars (Corbett) is some goofy exotic flute player who has posters of himself with open shirts and does cheesy music videos. She is still thinking about Jonathan and decides to go to New York to "see what happens".  I should mention that Lars asked her to marry her and she said yes.

Meanwhile, Jonathan finds a receipt inside the black glove he kept  (Sara has the other) and sees an account number and sees if he can get Sara's information this way. Eugene Levy plays the salesman who works at the store that can help him, but he blackmails him by making him buy $700 worth of stuff so he can get his commission. He starts getting clues on how to contact Sara, but always ends up one step short in which he has to find another way around to get to the next step. But it's all a moot point anyway because....

....the book and the five dollar bill show up! But I already spoiled that for you! Oh and I should also add that there are several scenes where Jonathan and his friend are going somewhere that Sara and her friend are just leaving. Uh-huh. And then there's a scene where Jonathan gets tangled up in a dog's leash and just a few seconds later, the guy and the dog are going around the block...and then Sara gets tangled up in the leash! Oh, movie! So like I said, Jonathan has been checking all the copies of "Love in the Time of Cholera" whenever he walks past a used book store. Holly has noticed this and what is her wedding present to him but that novel! And of course it is THE novel. Awkward! He finally has Sara's full name and her phone number.

Meanwhile, Sara has decided that coming to New York was a mistake and is on the plane to fly back to San Francisco. Molly Shannon has stayed behind to attend a wedding (oh, I forgot to mention that she and Holly are friends....of course they are! They all see each other at the hotel when Jonathan is conveniently out). While waiting for takeoff, Sara buys a pair of headphones and realizes she has Molly's wallet because their looks similar. In an earlier scene, when the two friends are at Serendipity's (because of course), Molly puts the change in her wallet and we see the red ink with Jonathan's name and number on a five dollar bill! Oooh! Sara sees the familiar bill and snatches it from the flight attendant and runs off the plane. She goes to stop the wedding only to find out that it has been called off.

She and Jonathan find each other at the ice skating rink, kiss, get married, and live happily ever after. (Or at least we see they are still together one year later!)

Like I said, you just need to go with the movie to enjoy it because there are too many things that are way too coincidental and would never happen in the real life. But it is a feel-good movie and came out at a time when that's what people wanted most.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

She's Miss United States

Miss Congeniality
Director: Donald Petrie
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine, Candice Bergen, William Shatner
Released: December 22, 2000
Viewed in theaters: December  28, 2000

Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is an FBI agent who is a little on the crass side. She snorts when she laughs; she doesn't care how she looks as she doesn't wear make up and has unkempt hair; and she says and does whatever she wants without thinking of the consequences first. So when they find out the Miss United States pageant (I guess they didn't have the rights to use the Miss America or Miss USA pageants!) is being targeted by a madman who calls himself The Citizen, they need an agent to go undercover. The only viable person is on maternity leave so she can't do it. Even though Gracie is a woman and the right age, nobody even considers her as she is not beauty queen material at all. She has no poise or manners and her looks are all wrong. But when they discover she doesn't look half bad in an evening gown, they decide to use her as their under cover agent. She has now replaced Miss New Jersey (as she was involved in a scandal and pulled from the competition) and is using the alias Gracie Lou Freebush. Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen) is the head of the pageant and is incredulous about the idea of Gracie being in the pageant but she enlists her pageant coach, Victor (Michael Caine), who gives Gracie a much needed make over and teaches her how to act like a lady including saying "yes" instead of "yeah" and how to glide. Rounding out the Miss United States panel is the host played by William Shatner.

Gracie's makeover includes a lot of waxing, dental care, skin care, hair styling, and make up. Of course she looks good - she's Sandra Bullock! Her partner, Eric (Benjamin Bratt) is amazed at what he sees and you know by the end of the movie they're going to become an item. I loved when Gracie taunted him with her singsongy, "You want to kiss want to hug want to date me." Bullock is great and hilarious with the physical comedy. Yeah, she probably falls one too many times when she's wearing high heels, but to me, it never gets old. And the scene where she's mocking the pageant winners receiving the crown is so funny. I would say the funniest scene is when she's having trouble walking so she gives Victor all these guns and holsters that are hidden under her dress and it goes on for a few minutes! Victor makes a quip about if she has an armed car under her dress as well. Although I also love the scene where they show a montage of the girls saying world peace is the one thing they want most, but when Gracie is asked the same question, she says, "Harsher punishment for parole violators" and then after a very silent pause she says, "And world peace!"

Gracie spends her time with the same women throughout the movie, the most notable one being Miss Rhode Island, a sweet and naive young girl named Cheryl (when asked what her perfect date would be, she replies with "April 25th because it's not too hot or too cold"), who Gracie encourages to be more confident. The girls representing New York, California, Hawaii, and Texas are really the only ones who have dialogue and we see throughout the movie. Not surprisingly, they all make it far into the competition along with Gracie and Cheryl. It is totally random when Miss Nebraska, of all the states, makes it into the top five and is third runner up!

There are a few things that don't make sense. Gracie has had a bad day and wants to quit but Victor and Eric encourage her not to. We learn she hasn't been on a date in many years and doesn't have many friends and she has a line where she tells Victor or Eric (I can't remember who) that they don't know why she is the way she is...but we never do learn why she is the way she is. Although at the beginning there is a scene of her as a grade schooler where she punches a boy for beating up another boy she likes, then when that boy is mad that a girl defended him, ends up punching him too. So I guess we are just suppose to figure she's always been like that, but why we don't ever find out why. There's a scene where Cheryl is suspected of being the Citizen but Gracie doesn't think such a sweet, innocent girl could ever do anything illegal so she takes her out to a club to have some "girl talk" with her and Cheryl tells her that she was "attacked" by a college professor once and while Gracie offers to teach her some self defense moves, we never hear about the incident again. Like, was she raped? It was just really random especially for not having anything to do with the movie. And Cheryl comes off as a very bubbly, friendly girl...not someone who has ever been "attacked" before. It was bizarre! And this is revealed when Gracie asks her if she's ever done anything illegal. She confesses she once shop lifted, then mentions that...which really has nothing to do with doing anything illegal, so I have no idea why they even had it in there.

The pageant takes place in San Antonio so Miss Texas has a lot of supporters in the audience. The look on her face when she learns she's second runner up is hilarious. I am about to reveal who is behind the Miss United States attack plot, so stop reading if you don't want to be spoiler (although who hasn't seen the movie yet?) It is Kathy Morningside and her son, Frank. She is being fired for fixing past competitions and she vows to give them a "show they won't forget" as she has replaced the crown with another crown that has a bomb in it (don't ask me how that's possible). Gracie realizes this right before the crown is to be placed on Cheryl, who has won the competition. It's very loud and Cheryl can't hear Gracie tell her not to take the crown so instead she has to pounce on Cheryl and claw the crown away from her. This results in a hilarious scene where Cheryl slaps her bouquet of flowers at her. Somehow Gracie punches Miss Texas in the nose (and we later see her with a nose bandage!) It's just a chaotic scene and ends with Gracie flinging the crown into the air towards the large Statue of Liberty replica as Kathy pushes the button that controls the bomb and ends up blowing up part of the statue.

The next morning Gracie is awarded Miss Congeniality by the other women in the pageant for saving their lives.

There was a sequel to this called Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. While watching the ten minute look at it on the DVD, I had no recollection of it whatsoever even though I was pretty sure I saw it since I liked the first one so much. However, when I looked at my movie journal for 2005 (this is a journal where I keep track of all the movies I've seen in the theater since 1999), it was not in there! Then I checked my online journal where I've kept track of all the DVDs I've seen since 2003 (I know, I'm a major nerd!) and discovered I saw it on DVD in June 2005. I probably don't remember anything about it because it's been nearly ten years since I saw it and it was awful as it was an unnecessary sequel. Sorry, but I won't be reviewing it!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Worst move of 2014?

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Nicki Minaj
Released: April 25, 2014

The Other Woman has to be a serious contender for the worst movie of 2014. Lord, that movie was awful! Carly (Cameron Diaz) starts dating an attractive and successful man, Mark (Coster-Waldau) only to discover months later he's married. His wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), suspects something and confronts Carly about it. At first I thought Mark was cheating on his wife because Kate is the most annoying human being in the world and I am not exaggerating. Leslie Mann is just so painfully unfunny in this. I don't think I cracked a smile once when she was doing her stupid physical comedy. (Okay, I may have laughed at that scene where she and Cameron Diaz are hiding in the bushes and she's pretending Diaz's legs are hers and she's stretching them out like she's in a weird pose...THAT wa the only somewhat funny thing that happened in the entire movie!) There's a scene where she's at  Carly's office and has just found out her husband's been having an affair with her and starts having a fake panic attack and asks if she can open a window (they're in a skyscraper in New York City, so she's apparently really stupid!) and it goes on and on and on...and I'm thinking, is this suppose to be funny? Because it's not!

But we soon learn Mark is just a scum bag because he has ANOTHER, much younger woman, Amber (Kate Upton who was only cast in the movie because she's Kate Upton). The wife and the mistress soon get a hold of her and she becomes a part of their team to take down Mark. I thought that happened way too quickly. One minute she's frolicking in the ocean with her married boyfriend, the next she's conniving with his wife (and her other competition) and they become good friends. It literally happens within the span of just a few minutes. At least they took some time with setting up Carly and Kate. Carly understandably doesn't want anything to do with Kate because 1) she's married to the guy she thought she liked and 2) she's the most annoying human being ever to be in a movie...she even followed Carly home from work which is just insane.

Oh, and let's not forget Nicki Minaj who is also in this, playing Diaz's secretary. Good God, she is just truly awful! Who thought it would be a good idea to put her in a movie? Probably the same person who thought it would be a good idea to put Kate Upton in a movie because she's hot at the moment.  What is this, Will and Grace, where we're throwing in random people just because they're super famous? Fact: Nicki Minaj can't act!

In a scene where Carly is on a date with Mark (she's keeping up appearances in order to get back at him so he doesn't suspect anything), he flirts with another woman when he goes to the bar to get their drinks. Why is this guy even married? In the same scene, Carly puts laxatives in his drink and we are treated to a delightful scene of him in the bathroom. You think they would have cut to the next scene as soon as we see him get up and run to the bathroom as he looks uncomfortable, but noooo, we had to endure a few extra minutes of disgusting and pointless footage.

Don Johnson plays Diaz's father and he has a thing for younger woman so he ends up with Amber at the end and there's a joke about Carly saying, "I'm not calling her mom." It's crazy to think that Cameron Diaz is twenty years older than Kate Upton!

This movie is just horrendous and please tell me if you've seen a movie worse than this in 2014 because I  will surely be avoiding those movies as well!