Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Cut Above the Rest

Edward Scissorhands
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Dianne Weist, Winona Ryder, Alan Arkin, Michael Anthony Hall, Vincent Price
Released: December 14, 1990

Oscar nominations:
Best Makeup (lost to Dick Tracy)

I can just see Tim Burton's pitch for this movie: "I want to make a movie about this guy and he has SCISSORS for HANDS!" And the producers were probably like, "Hmm, that sounds interesting. Go for it, Mr. Burton!" If any other person had directed this, no doubt it would have been a horror movie. I mean, the guy has SCISSORS for HANDS! That is completely terrifying! And not just one pair of scissors for each hand, oh no, he has one huge pair of scissors for each hand, then a few other smaller ones. But being that it's a Tim Burton movie (and, if, for some reason you didn't know it was directed by Burton, you would totally be able to tell), it's very whimsical. There are elements of romance and comedy and some horror, but none of the horror is brought on by the guy with SCISSORS for HANDS! (Gee, how do you think they came up with his name?) I believe this is the first movie Burton and Depp made together and they would go on to make many more movies together, for better or worse!

I had seen this movie before, but it's been quite awhile. The only other person I remembered in this movie besides Johnny Depp as the titular character was Winona Ryder, who plays Kim, the love interest. She actually doesn't appear in the movie until about forty minutes in. Well, technically, she's at the very beginning as her character as an old woman so she's wearing lots of old age makeup. Her granddaughter wants to hear a bedtime story so she tells her the tale of Edward Scissorhands. I had completely forgotten about this scene and was thinking, That old lady sure sounds a lot like Winona Ryder with an old lady voice, then realized, oh, yeah, duh! That's because it IS Winona Ryder! 

One of the interesting things about this movie is that it isn't set in a specific time or place. It's sort of timeless like that. Obviously when we first meet Edward it's quite a few decades earlier as Kim was an old woman in the first scene and now she's telling the story of when she was a teenager. We first meet her mom, Pam (Dianne Weist) who is an Avon lady selling her products to the neighborhood, but not having any luck. All the houses in the neighborhood look exactly the same, only they are all different colors: either pink, blue, green, or yellow. They all live in a cul-de-cal and at the end of the cul-de-sac is this huge, looming gray castle on a cliff that is obviously CGI-ed in. Well, I don't know if CGI was a thing back in 1990, but they obviously did something to paint it in the picture. Pam gets the idea to sell her products to this place and that's where she meets Edward. She is quite taken aback by this strange young man who is very pale, dressed all in leather, has scratches all over his face, and, oh yeah, has SCISSORS for HANDS! Since Edward appears to be alone, she decides to bring him home because she feels bad for him. In the car, he gets very excited and points at something, nearly jabbing her in the face with his scissorhand. She uses her products to apply to his face to try to get conceal the scars. (Poor guy probably gets one every time he has to scratch his face!) 

There are quite a few funny scenes. Since Kim is away camping for a few days, Pam lets Edward sleep in her room. She has a waterbed and he pokes it with one of the blades from his scissorhand and water is sprouting everywhere. There's another moment where Pam has lent Edward some of her husband's clothes and is sewing something for him and needs a pair of scissors to cut a piece of thread and she's looking around, and, duh, she has Edward Scissorhands right there in front of her so she asks him to cut the thread and he does, looking quite proud of himself for being useful. Pam also has a younger son and there's a scene where Pam and Edward are sitting at the dinner table with him and Pam's husband (Alan Arkin). Since he has SCISSORS for HANDS, Edward is having a bit of a difficult time eating and it's pretty funny watching him try to scoop up one little pea and attempt to put it in his mouth. (You think he would just stab it with one of the blades!) I don't know why they didn't help him with his food. It makes you wonder how he ate before he even got there. Of course, being created by an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price), he probably doesn't really even need to eat. We see flashbacks of the inventor with Edward and Edward was suppose to get a pair of hands, but right before the inventor was about to touch them, he drops dead. I don't think they would have helped Edward much anymore as they were just plastic hands! I wasn't really sure how exactly Edward was created; I guess he's suppose to be a Frankenstein-like character. Instead of being scared of him (well, the extremely religious woman does call him the devil), all the neighbors are delighted by him, especially when he starts trimming all the hedges into delightful shapes such as people and animals. (He seemed to like cutting them into dinosaurs). He also gives haircuts and trims dogs. There's a scene where he cuts the hair of a very shaggy dog and it's so obvious it's a completely different breed of dog because the dog was much shorter before it got all its hair cut! 

Edward sees a picture of Kim and becomes quite smitten with her. Everyone remembers the relationship between the two of them and this might be because Depp and Ryder did have a relationship for a little while. Because, honestly, their relationship in the movie makes no sense. When they first meet, it's quite amusing. Kim must not have told her parents she was coming home early, because she's dropped off at her house and goes to her bedroom where Edward is in her bed. She starts taking off her clothes (but not all of them) and looks in the mirror when she suddenly sees Edward in her bed in the reflection and starts freaking out. Her parents go into her room and there's a funny shot of Edward getting out of the bed and walking down the hall really fast. A lot of Depp's acting is just based on physical comedy as he doesn't speak very much and when he does talk, it's only one or two words at a time. When he does say a full sentence, it's quite jarring because you're not used to it and it doesn't seem natural. Kim has a boyfriend, Jim (Anthony Michael Hall), who's a real jerk and uses Edward to unlock his dad's office with one of the blades so he can steal something. Edward ends up getting caught and blamed for the whole thing. Kim breaks up with Jim and helps Edward after the entire neighborhood has turned on him. One of the neighbor women has accused him of assaulting her when she opened a salon for him to cut hair. The woman has already been set up to be a bit of the neighborhood skank, so she has plans to seduce Edward, but he ends up running away from her. At first, I thought maybe he had accidentally killed her by slitting her throat by accident with his scissorhands when things started to get intense (I told you it's been awhile since I last saw this!) because he looks pretty scared when he runs out of the room, but a few seconds later you see the woman appear, looking quite angry. This is when she tells everyone that Edward tried to rape her. Jim is also pretty angry at Edward for taking his girlfriend away from him and he and Edward get into a fight at the mansion and Kim stabs Jim with one of Edward's blades and he falls through the window, crashing to his death. Kim kisses Edward and says goodbye to him and tells the others he has died so they have no reason to go in the house and look for him.

Like I said, the Edward and Kim relationship comes out of nowhere and doesn't make any sense. And really, do you really think that would work? How would it when the guy has SCISSORS for HANDS. How would you even....I mean, what if they.... Why would that skanky woman want him to.... Let's face it, the whole intimacy thing is a little freaky. I think they did the right thing by not taking it any further than a sweet little kiss. Instead, after Edward is back living alone in the huge mansion, he carves magnificent ice sculptures, often in the form of Kim.

I much prefer the mother/son relationship between Edward and Pam. It's much more fleshed out (even though she does disappear during the last third of the movie when the Edward/Kim relationship is trying to become a thing. Dianne Weist is great at playing the mom role (see Parenthood and The Lost Boys) and it made me laugh when she first enter Edward's house and says, "Hellloooo! Is anyone here?"

This is a very quirky, whimsical movie and it's quite moving and funny at the same time and if you have never seen this for some reason, I would definitely tell you to check it out. 

This also stars the first of my Christmas movies! From now until Christmas, I will be reviewing holiday movies. Technically, I wouldn't call this a true Christmas movie as there is only one scene set during Christmas and the rest of it takes place during the rest of the year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"King Kong ain't got nothing on me!"

Training Day
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Eva Mendes, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray
Released: October 5, 2001
Viewed in theaters: January 9, 2002

Oscar nominations:
Best Actor - Denzel Washington (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Ethan Hawke (lost to Jim Broadbent for Iris)

Before I get into my review, I would like to share a tiny triumph! If you remember, in September,  I posted my favorite movie podcasts. Well, when I tweeted that entry out, I at replied all the podcasts I mentioned. I got a fairly good response. Out of the eleven podcasts (technically ten made my list and one was an honorable mention) I mentioned as my favorite, eight of them liked the tweet. A couple tweeted me back to say thanks. And I got re-tweeted three times by the Action Movie Anatomy podcast (the @AMApodcast twitter handle, plus the two hosts re-tweeted on their own Twitter accounts). But wait, there's more! As if that wasn't enough, I got a little shout out on the AMA podcast. And it was on the episode they did for this movie. I don't always listen to episodes that come out right away. In fact, they recorded their review of Training Day back in September, but I didn't get around to watching the movie and listening to their review until just a couple weeks ago. If I see a movie I want to watch (or re-visit in the case of this one) that one of my favorite movie podcasts reviews, I will put it in my Netflix queue and go back and listen to the episode after I've watched it. So I'm listening to the podcast and at the beginning, one of them mentions that one of their listeners had written about the podcast in a blog and I'm thinking, Hey! I'm a listener and I wrote about their podcast in my blog! It took me a nanosecond later to realize they were talking about my blog! They seemed very appreciative I included their podcast among my favorites. Now they didn't mention my blog (and I was already pretty excited, but I probably would have freaked out if they said the name of my blog!), but like I said, they did re-tweet the original tweet three times, so I am very thankful for that. I'm just glad they talked about it on an episode I listened to...if they had mentioned it in a movie I wasn't interested in, then I may never have heard it! Now it makes me want to go back to the other podcasts I tweeted and see if they said anything! This isn't the first time I've been mentioned in a podcast. I once gave five stars to the Buffy Rewatch and on the episode where they reviewed "Faith, Hope, and Trick", one of the hosts said something like, "Thanks to Sara who gave us four stars." Of course, they could have been talking about any Sara(h), but I'm pretty sure it was me because this was right after I gave them the four star review.

And since I'm on the subject of tiny triumphs, I would like to share another one! Now I posted this on Facebook when it happened, but if you found my blog through another means of social media, this will be new to you. After I posted my review of Stand By Me, I tweeted the review to the cast and Jerry O'Connell liked my tweet! I mean, how cool is that?

Okay, so now that you're caught up with all my gloating (hey, leave me alone! I never have anything to gloat about!), let's get on to the review.

You may notice that I didn't see this movie in the theaters until three months after its release date. Well, technically, I didn't see this movie in a traditional theater. I did see it in a theater and I did see it on a projection screen, but it wasn't at a movie theater. My school screened it (for free - who doesn't love a free movie?) so that's when I first saw it.

Imagine the worst day you've ever had at work. Now watch this movie and stop whining! Did you just see the day of hell Ethan Hawke went through? In this movie, that takes place within a day, Hawke plays Officer Jake Hoyt of the LAPD who is being trained (hence the title) by Alonzo Harris (Washington), a narcotics officer who does not exactly do things by the book. They first meet at a diner in the morning where Alonzo is reading the newspaper. When Jake starts to talk to him, he tells him he's reading his paper and there's an awkward moment because Jake didn't order anything when the waitress came to their table. Once he realizes he's not going to be able to enjoy his morning paper, Alonzo tells Jake to tell him a story. You can tell by the moment Jake meets him, he's pretty intimidated by him and it's about to get a lot worse.

Alonzo has a very interesting way of working. He takes things to the way extreme. When they're busting a Volvo with three white middle-class college kids who have drugs, Alonzo pulls out his gun and scares the everliving sh*t out of them. He makes Jake smoke the weed (which turns out was laced with PCP) they've confiscated, because, after all, he is going to be a narcotics officer and needs to know his stuff. Of course Jake refuses, but after Alonzo stops the car in the middle of the traffic (and points his gun at a driver who angrily honks at him, but then backs off when he sees the gun) and bullies Jake into smoking the stuff when he points his gun at Jake's head. He tells Jake if he was a dealer he would be dead and to never turn down deals on the street. Later, when Jake is complaining that he could be fired for what he did, Alonzo just grins at him and tells him he's old enough to make his own decisions and "It's not like I put a gun to your head!" What an a-hole!

While driving, Jake sees a teen girl in a school uniform being assaulted by these two bums and makes Alonzo stop the car. He runs and fights the guys while Alonzo just stand there and watches. After the two guys are in handcuffs, he tells the girl, who is only fourteen years old, to get out of there and after giving the two men who just attempted to rape the girl, a quick beating he gives them the ultimatum of, "Do you want to go home or do you want to go to jail?" and lets them go. This shocks Jake. He tells his trainer that the girl should give a statement and the two scumbags should be in jail so they don't do this to anyone else. It's a good thing Jake helped stop the girl from being harmed because later in the movie, Jake finds himself in a situation where he's been ditched by Alonzo and is about to get killed by a guy named Smiley. He has found the wallet of the teen girl that she had dropped and Jake had picked up. Turns out the young girl is Smiley's cousin and Smiley wasn't so smiley when he found out Jake had it and accuses of him of doing unsavory things to his cousin. Jake tells him what really happened, but he doesn't believe him. He does call the girl and she lies and tells him she was at school that day, but finally caves in and tells him what really happened and that is what saved his life.

A few well-known musicians are in this movie. Snoop Dogg plays a wheel-chair bound man who is caught with a gun and crack. It is pretty amusing to watch Jake chase a man in a wheelchair down a street and through a shop. Alonzo also gives him the ultimatum of, "Do you want to go home or go to jail?" and makes him spill who he is working for. Snoop doesn't want to be a snitch and Alonzo tells him for every bullet that's used from his gun, that's an extra ten years in prison. He starts releasing bullets from the gun until Snoop finally caves in and gives him a name. They go visit the home of the man who's wife is played by  Macy Gray ("I try to say goodbye and I choke! Try to walk away and I stumble!" - Love that song). Alonzo shows her a fake search warrant and then steals drug money from the house. Also in the movie is Dr. Dre, another narcotics officer who joins Alonzo, Jake, and three other officers in an elaborate plan to steal drug money from an ex-cop/current drug dealer (Scott Glenn) that Alonzo and Jake visit earlier in the movie. Didn't really quite get this part. They end up shooting and killing the ex-cop and Alonzo shoots one of the other officers twice in his vest to make it look like he was shot by the ex-cop. He offers a share of the money to Jake, but being that he is of moral character, he refuses. He also says he's not going to let them get away with this, but Alonzo reminds him that he has PCP in his system and nobody will believe him and he will be the one to get the can for this.

Denzel won his second acting Oscar for this movie, but it was his first win for a lead role. I think there were a few factors that led to his win. Of course he was great in the role. I would say this is one of my top five Denzel performances. I do think a part of his winning is that it was a bit of a makeup Oscar for not giving it to him nine years ago when he was nominated for Malcolm X and lost to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Now we all love Al Pacino, but, well, Denzel should have won that Oscar. It's been awhile since I've seen Malcolm X, but I have heard clips on podcasts and seen clips on YouTube of it and it's really no contest. Also, the fact that Russell Crowe (nominated that year for A Beautiful Mind) seemed to be Denzel's biggest competition also helped. For one thing, Crowe had already won the year before for Gladiator, and, unless you're Tom Hanks that never happens where you win two consecutive Oscars. And Russell Crowe is no Tom Hanks! This was during the time Crowe was being a huge a-hole and was throwing phones at people and cursing at and punching everyone. I remember South Park did a parody of this where Crowe goes around the world to beat people up! I was very anti-Crowe during this time and was rooting hardcore against him. Meanwhile, I was rooting FOR Denzel and when Crowe won the Golden Globe and SAG that year, I may have been hyperventilating just a little! Needless to say, I was very thrilled when he won the Oscar.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Celebrating 15 years of Harry Potter cinema

I don't know if you were aware of this, but fifteen years ago today on November 16, 2001, the first Harry Potter movie was released in theaters. (The Americans say "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"; the Brits (and probably the rest of the world!) say "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"). I still remember seeing the movie in theaters with my mom over Thanksgiving break on November 22, 2001. (I know, I had to wait SIX WHOLE DAYS before I could see it...poor me!)

If you click on the "Harry Potter" label, you will find my reviews of all the movies (well, all of them except the fifth movie which it seems I never reviewed!) as well as my rankings of the film. Would the ranking still be the same? I have no idea, but it looks like I may have had some recency bias since I ranked the last movie as #1 just having recently seen it when I wrote that entry! It has been five years since I saw the movies, at least the latter ones, and probably even more since I've seen the first three (or four or five...I have no idea the last time I saw those movies were!) Someday, when I have nothing but time, I would like to revisit the movies. I know there have been plenty of movie podcasts (including the ones I listen to on a regular basis) that have done their own retrospective on the movies.

Back in 2001, I was all about the Harry Potter hype. I read the first four books in about three months. I had Harry Potter notebooks and pencils. I bought a Harry Potter towel off of e-bay. And I still have the towel; the notebooks and pencils, I don't. I still have a videotape (yes, you read that right!) of the appearances of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint on Oprah, Rosie, Katie Couric, Leno,  and Letterman. Unfortunately, I do not have 12 year old Daniel's TRL appearance, though I did watch it and I found a message I wrote about it from November 13, 2001:

Did anyone see Daniel Radcliffe on TRL today? Poor kid, looked scared to death! They were playing Genie in a Bottle when he came out. Uh.....Harry Potter isn't a genie. He said he thought New York was "cooler" than London. There was this girl in a HP towel outside (I think it was at that moment that Daniel wanted to move to NY -LOL) and Carson had her come up. Hehe, I have a HP towel! But hers was different. Carson asked him what he had done and he said he went to the Empire State Building and thought it was scary. (Hmm...I would be scared to go up tall buildings in NYC too....)
Anyway, the kid was scared to death and it was really cute lol. 

Since I chronicle everything (important, anyway!), I thought I would share with you excerpts of my experiences with the movies and books.

This is when I saw Chamber of Secrets in November 2002:

As I walked to the front entrance, I noticed that everybody and their mother seemed to be there. I gave the usher my ticket and decided to use the restroom first. As I was walking towards it, I could tell that everybody was there to see Harry Potter or had already seen it because all around me I heard comments such as, “Did you see the first one?”, “I should have left when he started burping up the slugs!”, “That snake was scary!” I mean, what else would they have been there to seen? (Well, maybe that Eminem movie). I noticed a young kid in the line dressed as Harry Potter. He was wearing glasses and a black robe and carrying a wand. He had black hair so it worked for him. Behind me there were these really obnoxious kids who were trying to “catch” the shooting stars on the screen above them. They kept yelling, “I GOT IT!” Augh, I wanted to yell at them to shut up. Thank GOD they were in a different theater! They started letting people in at 6:20 and I sorta snuck into the line. I found a seat in the middle of the theater in a middle of a row. It was a packed house. There were parents with kids, teenagers, pre-teens, toddlers, old people, middle aged people, all kinds of people were there. Everybody was white but I did see an Indian family! After watching fifteen minutes of horrible movie previews (except for The Two Towers, of course), the actual movie started.

This is when I got the fifth book in June 2003:

The day has finally come! I still can't believe I'm in the middle of reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix right now. So it happened like this: I got up at nine this morning and drove to Barnes and Noble. I didn't pre-order or reserve my copy, so I was praying that I would still be able to get one. I do have to admit I was a bit worried that I wouldn't find a copy.

So I get there and walk inside and there's a huge Harry Potter stand with HP stuff and the OTHER books...but not the ONE! So I'm thinking, "Oh crap, they're sold out!" But I decide not to panic quite yet. I go to look at the back of the store and there it is, a table stacked with thick, hardcover books with a blue cover and those two words: Harry Potter. I grab one and I go back to the front to pay for the book and I pass a girl about my age holding the book! Hee! Then as I was paying for it, I noticed a guy putting more books at that entrance of the store. And then I saw a woman about my mom's age with the book get in the line after me. Hee! The saleslady asked me if I had found everything I was looking for and I said I was very relieved I found it because I was a little worried there and she told me to enjoy it. Aww. And I got a good deal too: the cover said it was $29.95, or something like that, and I got it for $19.25 on sale.
And as I was leaving I saw a boy around 12 with his mom. He looked very excited. I wondered what he was going to get? Hee!

You can tell I was very giddy because I kept saying "Hee!"

This is when I got the sixth book in July 2005:

It's about 9 pm when I get to Borders (and the parking lot is pretty full) and go inside and I'm looking around for the unmistakable green cover ofHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but I don't see any shelves full of it or anything like I was expecting. However, to my left I see a stack of about ten of the books on a table with a young guy sitting behind it. He says, "Did you pre-order one?" My heart sinks and I say, "No,". "That's okay," he says, "We have extras." and gives me a book. Whee!

This is when my mom and I saw Goblet of Fire the day before Thanksgiving, 2005:

We caught the 3:20 showing of GoF! My mom has only read the first book and seen the first movie, so I gave her a brief synopsis about what this movie was about. (It was so sad...she didn't know who Voldemort was!) She asked if Harry's mean relatives would be in this one and I told her they were cut out, then I told her all about SPEW and how that was cut out too. Hehe, now she says she wants a house elf! During the movie, Mom actually jumped and screamed! LMAO. It was during the first task when Harry is flying his broom and almost collides into the dragon. After the movie I asked her if she was able to follow it along and she was. She added, "I didn't know it was going to be so scary! That dragon, that snake, those skeletons in the graveyard!" I just rolled my eyes. She thought Harry was "cute as a button" and he was the only one who hadn't changed that much, to which I replied, "Uh, he didn't have long hair in the other movies." She also thought they gave Ron the long hair so he wouldn't be cuter than Harry. Ouch, Mom!  During the movie, I'd have to lean over to Mom and explain things to her, like who Sirius and Mytrle were.

This is when I got the seventh and final book in July 2007:

This was the first time where I pre-ordered a Harry Potter book from and last night I began to have my doubts. I know I'm not the only person in Omaha who's getting the last book via mail, so who knows who long it would take to get them all delivered? What if I don't get it until really late in the evening? That would have been a whole day wasted where I could have read it! So I was hoping that it would at least be delivered before two o'clock; noon would be even better.

So I wake up this morning at nine to use the bathroom (then promptly go back to bed!) and think that I could have gone to Barnes and Noble right now and gotten it, but I really didn't want to deal with the crowds and I remember one year parking was a bitch.

Imagine my surprise when I hear a knock on my door at 9:40! I quickly go to answer the door and laying on my door step is a rectangle-shaped box. I (very quietly) squealed. Haha, on the box it says, "Attention Muggles: do not deliver or open before July 21st." 

I actually haven't opened mine yet. I want to get situated before I start reading and I'm afraid I'll flip to the last page if it's just laying around. I need to have self control. I even went to the grocery store yesterday to stock up on food so I don't have to leave my apartment at all this weekend.

And this is when I saw the final movie in July 2011:

I woke up at 10:30 this morning and saw the 12:15 showing of Deathly Hallows Part 2. Even though my alarm was set for 11 and I was planning to see the 1:00 or 1:45 showings, I kept having these dreams (nightmares?) that my alarm didn't go off and I slept through the afternoon and was late to see the movie. So when I woke up after the second of these dreams, I just decided to get up. 

I used the bathroom before I went into the theater and while I was in the stall I heard this really weird noise. It sounded like a computerized wail. When I walked out, I noticed this paper mache head with a face with a black floating dress hanging from the ceiling. It was Moaning Myrtle, ha! I hadn't even noticed it (er, her) when I first walked in.

I changed my seat three times before I finally got settled. The first time I moved because there were two young boys behind me and I was afraid they were going to kick my seat, then I moved because the woman in front of me was playing with her cellphone and I did not want to be behind somebody who had their cell on through the movie (there is nothing more irritating and distracting!), so I finally found a seat in a row third from the top. A young boy and his mom sat in the same row, just one seat between us and the boy took out an iPad and I'm thinking, "This kid better not have that thing on when the movie starts!" Luckily when the lights dimmed, he turned it off and handed it to his mother. 

And because the 12 year old inside of me never leaves, here is my favorite line in the entire series. It's from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and makes me laugh every time:

Tired of walking in on Harry, Hermione, and Ron all over the school, Professor McGonagall had given them permission to use the empty Transfiguration classroom at lunchtimes. (p. 608)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

50 First Dates

50 First Dates
Director: Peter Segal
Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Sean Astin, Blake Clark 
Released: February 13, 2004
Viewed in theaters: February 16, 2004

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are like the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan of my generation in that they have starred in three movies together just like Tom and Meg did. Those three movies are The Wedding Singer (1998), this one, and Blended (2014), the last of which I've never seen. I haven't seen The Wedding Singer in awhile, but that's probably my favorite of the trio of movies they've done together, but this movie is very cute, albeit pretty stupid at times. It's simultaneously sweet and raunchy.

Sandler plays Henry Roth, a guy who lives and works in Hawaii as a veterinarian at an aquatic park. He is a bit of a player (okay, that may be an understatement!) and has commitment issues because when the movie opens, we see a montage of women (and Kevin James, haha) who are talking to their friends about this amazing guy they met and had a fling with while on vacation in Hawaii. He never dates women who are from Hawaii so he doesn't have to be tied down. He always has some kind of excuse to end a relationship and makes up some elaborate lie whether it be he's a secret agent or married or gay. I don't know why he has to come up with these excuses when all he has to say it won't work because none of the women lived in Hawaii! 

One day, by chance, he has breakfast at a place he's never been to before and that's where he sees the quirky Lucy (Barrymore). She is making an architectural design out of her waffles and he's intrigued by her, so much so, that he goes to the same place the next morning where she is also back, and starts a conversation with her. They hit it off and he becomes smitten with her and she invites him to have breakfast with her the next morning, which he accepts. There's a funny scene where they're each by their car, both of which are blocked by a large truck. They both start dancing in front of their cars and when the large truck between them moves, they catch each other dancing and sheepishly look at each other.

Henry goes golfing with his friend, Ula (Schneider) who gives him a phone number of an attractive woman he met. Ula is married with four kids and lives vicariously through Henry's trysts. To Ula's shock, Henry doesn't want the number. That is, until he gets hit in the head by a golf ball and has a daydream of Lucy wanting to date him and it freaks him out, so he agrees to go on a date with the woman, but when he's with her, he discovers he's not interested in her and keeps thinking about Lucy. He also tells his date, who claims she's drunk enough to go back to his place and have sex, that there wasn't even any alcohol in the fishbowl drink she had, haha. I think that would be an interesting experiment and I'm sure it's been done before: tell people they are drinking an alcoholic drink when there's no alcohol in it at all and see how they act. I'm sure many would act drunk.

When he goes back to meet Lucy the next day, she has no idea who he is. When he introduced himself the first time the other day, he apologized that his fingers smelled like fish because he had been feeding the walrus where he works. She said that she liked the smell because it reminded her of her father and brother who are fishermen who are gone for months at a time, so when they come back, she gives them long hugs and they smell like fish. So, the next day, when Henry arrives for their second date, he tells her, "My fingers are extra fishy today if you care to take a whiff" and wiggles them in front of her face and she says, "What was that?" and he says, "I was petting my walrus this morning and thinking of you" and she goes, "Okay, pervert, I think that you should leave." The waitress, who has known Lucy for quite some time because she was friends with her mother, takes Henry, who is obviously confused, aside and tells him that Lucy lost her short-term memory and doesn't retain any new information. Every day she wakes up, the previous day has been wiped from her memory. This happened nearly a year ago when Lucy and her dad were in a car accident. Her dad broke some ribs, but she suffered a terrible head injury which resulted in her short-term memory loss. I guess being a guy, Henry never noticed or thought it odd, on his third day in a row of seeing Lucy, that she was always wearing the same outfit: a pink shirt and white pants. (Actually, I never caught that on my first viewing!)

The day of the accident was October 13, which is also her dad's birthday, so she wakes up each day thinking it's her dad's birthday. When she parted ways with Henry yesterday, she told him she had to go because it was her dad's birthday and they have a tradition of picking a pineapple. Her dad, Marlin (Blake Clark) and brother, Doug (Sean Astin) do the same thing every day so they won't upset Lucy with the fact that she lost her memory and nearly a year has passed. They're living their own Groundhog Day! They got a bunch of papers of the day of the accident that she reads so she thinks it's October 13 everyday. As the waitress explained to Henry, she has breakfast at that place every Sunday, and since October 13 was a Sunday, she starts her day every morning having breakfast there.

When she gets home, she's ready to go pineapple picking, but her dad tells her he already got on at the farmer's market. Now I'm not sure if he does this because of the traumatizing accident when they went to pick a pineapple on his real birthday or because he doesn't want to drive all the way out to pick a pineapple every day, but I guess it could be a combination of both. Instead, he tells her he painted his workshop white, but it's too white and wants her to paint something. Since she teaches an art class at an elementary school, she loves painting. She tells him to watch a football game the Vikings are playing (hmmm, they must originally be from Minnesota!) she knows he's been looking forward to, so they watch a tape of the show. They're not even paying attention to it while she's painting, but when she comes in the house, they turn their attention to the TV and act like they're interested in the game. Lucy makes a bet with her brother about a play and he in return bets there's going to be a very specific play, and of course, having seen the game hundreds of times, he's right.
 My favorite part of the movie (and the only thing I really remembered from seeing it in theaters) was when Marlin opens his birthday present from Lucy and it's a copy of The Sixth Sense. Now you all know how big I am a fan of that movie (do I need to remind you?) so I got a big kick out of that. I love the looks on her dad's and brother's faces when she suggests they watch it right away because you know they've been watching this movie every day for nearly the past year! I don't care how much you love a movie; I would get so sick of watching the same movie every day! I can't even watch the same movie once a year! And after the movie Lucy is like, "I can't believe it! The whole time, Bruce Willis was a ghost! Did you guys see that coming?" and both of them go, "No, I had no idea!" (At least Lucy didn't give her dad Groundhog Day because that would be a really sick joke!)

Once Lucy goes to bed, they get ready to do the whole thing again the next day: they repaint over the wall Lucy has painted on, they wrap up the copy of The Sixth Sense, they find a pineapple, they wash her pink shirt and white pants she always wear, and they get the October 13 newspaper ready for her.

Why Marlin and Doug just didn't do what Henry did, I will never understand. He makes a video that he has her watch everyday explaining how she was in a car accident and how they met. Of course, she is very upset when she learns this information (which is new to her each time she starts a new day), but at least she isn't living a lie and her dad and brother don't have to re-live the same day over and over again! Lucy starts keeping a journal to help her remember things. As the title of the movie, Lucy and Henry go on 50 "first" dates and each time Lucy tells him she wishes she had met him before the accident. There's a funny montage where they share their "first" kiss about five different times and after each one, Lucy says, "There's nothing like a first kiss!" Of course the morning after they sleep together, Lucy wakes up to find a stranger in her bed and she screams bloody murder at her. Henry had said the night before he should probably leave, but she insisted he stay a little longer and they both fell asleep. It did take Henry awhile before he became a part of Lucy's life. Each day at the restaurant he would try to reintroduce himself, but it didn't always work. He even sets up a scenario where he's pretending to be mugged by Ula so Lucy will see them when she's driving by. She does and gets out a bat to beat Ula with it. Ouch.

When Lucy discovers that Henry wants to go out to sea to study walruses, she decides to erase him entirely from her life because she doesn't want to hold him back, but being that this is a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, of course Henry finds a way to win her back and tells her he loves her and wants to be with her. And we learn, that even though she doesn't remember him, there is some part of her that does because she's been painting pictures of him in her studio so we know he has made an impression on her. At the end of the movie they are married and have a kid and both are out at sea so Henry can study walruses. Each morning, when Lucy wakes up, she has a video to watch to remind her what's going on in her life.

Friday, November 4, 2016


Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise, Delroy Lindo, Brawley Nolte, Lili Taylor, Evan Handler, Donnie Wahlberg, Liev Schreiber
Released: November 8, 1996


Alright, I can never be too careful with my spoiler warnings. I haven't gotten a complaint once, so I think my warnings help! I've seen Ransom twice in the past, but it's been quite awhile since I last saw it, it felt like I was watching it for the first time. These were the only things that I remembered (and now you will understand why I put that large spoiler warning above!): the scene where Mel Gibson dives into a pool to retrieve a key, that Gary Sinise played a cop that was involved with the kidnapping, and that the kid is reunited with his parents. Those three things were the only things I remembered, although, for some reason, I thought the reveal of Gary Sinise as the kidnapper was revealed much later in the movie, but I must be thinking when Mel Gibson figures out it was him. 

Mel Gibson and Rene Russo play married couple Tom and Kate Mullen who have a ten year old son, Sean (played by Brawley Nolte - he is Nick's son). They live in a penthouse in Manhattan as Tom is multi-millionaire owner of a successful airliner. Their son is taken when they're in Central Park at a science fair. Kate is a judge and Tom, who was with Sean, gets distracted and starts talking to people. When both parents realize their son isn't where he was standing a few minutes ago, they begin to get a bit frantic and start looking for him and Kate uses the intercom system to page him to the judges' table, but that doesn't work. When they get home, they have an e-mail waiting for them. So they logged on to their NETSCAPE (hahahah, remember Netscape? I personally never used it;  I was using AOL back in '96...remember AOL? Remember IMing? Those were they days, I tell you!) and there's a video of their son laying on a bed, blindfolded and handcuffed to the bed. There's also an audio recording of a man with an altered voice telling them he wants a two million dollar ransom for their son that is to be delivered within 48 hours and he will contact them later on how to deliver the money. He tells them if they get the police involved, he will kill their kid. Naturally, Tom and Kate are very shaken up at this. Even though they are told not to get the police involved, they do get the FBI involved, which makes no sense to me, but whatever. And the thing is, the kidnapper KNOWS that the FBI is involved. But it turns out to be a good thing he has the FBI helping him. 

Special Agents Hawkins (Delroy Lindo) and his team trace the calls that Tom receives from the kidnapper. He thinks the kidnapper may be connected to a guy named Jackie Brown who is currently in prison. There was a whole side story with a shady business deal Tom did in the past and he paid off some people and somehow Brown was sent to jail, though he thinks it should have been Tom. I have no idea, but they just wanted to give the audience a red herring (even though the audience knows who the real kidnapper is long before Tom and everyone else does). 

The real kidnapper is a police officer named Jimmy Shaker (Gary Sinise). He has a team which consists of his girlfriend, Maris (Lili Taylor), who was also the waitstaff at one of the Mullen's fancy parties, so she was an "insider". And there's also three other guys played by Evan Handler (for all of you Sex and the City fans, he played Charlotte's divorce lawyer turned husband), Donnie Wahlberg, and Liev Schreiber. When we first see Shaker, we think he has found Sean and is going to rescue him, but surprise! He's the mastermind behind the whole kidnapping! Shaker calls Tom with a disguised voice and tells him how he's going to drop off the money which includes jumping into a pool with his clothes on to retrieve a key at the bottom (which also burns out the mic he's wearing) and changing into different clothes and driving a different car so the FBI can no longer follow him. Tom is lucky he didn't kill his kid since he didn't follow instructions about not getting the police involved. Actually, Tom changed a lot of the rules that Shaker had planned for him, so he is very lucky nothing happened to his son! 

After all this game of cat and mouse, Shaker instructs him to turn off a certain exit and give the money to Wahlberg, who, in turn, will give him the address. When Wahlberg demands the money, Tom demands the address, but Wahlberg doesn't seem to know what he's talking about. There's a big shootout as the police have located them and Wahlberg has died before Tom can get the location of where his son is out of him. He believes Shaker never had any intention of ever giving back his son because he could tell Wahlberg had no idea what he was talking about when he asked for an address.

Shaker decides to try another drop off for the money, but this time Tom has different plans. He tells the kidnapper to turn on his TV and makes a stop at the news station, as being a prominent business man, his story has made not only national news, but WORLD news. On live TV, he announces that he will no longer pay the ransom, but instead offer a bounty of two million dollars for whoever turns in the kidnapper and ups the offer to four million dollars the next day after Shaker personally threatened Kate. Tom and Kate know Sean is alive because the kidnapper put him on the phone to prove it. Tom also announces that if his son is killed, then there will be no money rewarded. His wife and Agent Hawkins are against this plan and tell him he just needs to pay the ransom, but Tom holds his ground. He thinks this is the only way he will get his son back alive.  

Shaker calls Tom, one last time and demands the money right then and now or else he will kill Sean. Tom still refuses and a gun shot is heard. This is the first time Tom breaks down, thinking his son is really dead and what has he done? But it was just a warning shot and instead Shaker has other ideas where he plans to be the hero and pretend he's the one who saved Sean. He frames his other accomplices and kills them, making it look like they were the masterminds behind the whole thing and that he has found and rescues Sean. After Sean is reunited with his parents, Shaker comes to the apartment the next day to collect his money. He and Tom were supposed to meet at his office, somewhere else on another day, but he tells Tom he couldn't wait any longer and needed the money right away. This turns out to be a very stupid movie for the criminal because Sean, who is hiding behind a door and only his father can see him, recognizes Shaker's voice and judging by his reaction, Tom knows he was the kidnapper. Shaker has figured out Tom knows who he really is, so he takes him by gunpoint and demand he drive him to the bank to get the money, then on to one of his private jets to fly to Mexico. Tom tells him he has to call the airport to fuel a jet and as we see him talking, we see he has called Agent Hawkins. They get his money at the bank, then there's a big shootout and Shaker is bloodied, but he has enough life left in him to lift his gun and try to shoot Tom, but Agent Hawkins kills him first. Shaker, I mean, he kills the bad guy. 

I like that it turns the table with the offering of the bounty, but it's a pretty run of the mill kidnapping movie. I haven't seen it in awhile, but I think I prefer Man on Fire to this one. This movie got a little intense at times, but that movie was WAY intense. I think if I were a kidnapped character, I would much rather have Denzel Washington look for me than Mel Gibson because Denzel gets things done! Sure, Mel Gibson got his son back, but things got a little iffy there for awhile. Although, now I can't remember if Dakota Fanning survived that movie...I think she does. :::makes mental note to watch and review Man on Fire soon::::