Friday, September 30, 2011

"Answer This!" red carpet premiere at Emagine Royal Oak

Nelson Franklin and Chris Gorham in "Answer This!"
The feature film Answer This! has finally found distribution, and will be playing in selected theaters in Michigan, Ohio, and New Hampshire soon. To kick off its theater run, a red carpet premiere will be held at the new Emagine Theater in Royal Oak, MI, on Thursday, October 13th.

Arielle Kebbel and Chris Gorham, in a scene in front of a
mural in Ann Arbor (Liberty + State St.)
$75 gets you dinner, drinks, popcorn, a ticket to the movie, and a chance to "hobnob" with the stars and producer/writer of the film. UM alum and Michigan native Chris Farah, the writer and director of the film, will be present, and I am hoping that Chris Gorham and Arielle Kebbel, the stars of the film, will be attending as well - I got to meet them at the world premiere at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor last October (click here for event coverage). Dress for the red carpet is "cocktail casual."

If $75 is out of your price range, $10 will get you a ticket to the movie, which starts at 8pm on the 13th.

Synopsis of the movie from the website:

A brilliant trivia whiz, Paul Tarson (Christopher Gorham) is great at answering life's little questions, but horrible at answering the big ones - like what's he going to do after grad school?

Now he and his friends James (Nelson Franklin) and Izzy (Evan Jones) will finally get a shot at beer, women and nerdy redemption when they enter the biggest challenge of their lives... a citywide pub trivia tournament, hosted by one Brian Collins (Chris Parnell). But when Paul falls for Naomi (Arielle Kebbel) - a smart young undergrad who's also his student - will he find out that the little things are bigger than he bargained for?

Set at the University of Michigan in the world of competitive pub trivia, "Answer This!" is the story of a boy finally coming of age - when he's 30.


For more information or to buy tickets, click here, and to see the full list of theaters where Answer This! will be playing, check out the movie's website.

"What's Your Number?"

Anna Faris has been in a lot of good movies over the past few years - I enjoyed her in The House Bunny, for example - but What's Your Number? makes me wonder if she only did the movie because she needed a paycheck. WYN looked like it was going to be a cute chick flick, but instead took a turn for the worse and employed dumb raunchy comedy like far too many movies these days.

Ally Darling (Anna Faris, "Take Me Home Tonight") has a bad track record when it comes to guys. After breaking up with her last boyfriend, Rick (Zachary Quinto, TV's "Heroes"), a vegetarian bicyclist, she realizes that her sister's wedding is soon approaching and she needs a date for it. After subsequently getting fired from her job - perhaps because she was late every day, but it's never actually said - Ally reads an article in a women's magazine entitled "What's Your Number?" which says that 96% of women who have had twenty or more lovers end up not finding someone to settle down with. In a panic, she decides to find her exes, hoping that they have aged well, so that she can get back together with one of them and not go over the coveted "20" number.

Ally enlists the help of her neighbor (the always handsome Chris Evans, "Captain America: The First Avenger") to help investigate, and together they meet up with some of her exes. Her sister (Ari Graynor, "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist"), after all, is about to get married to one of her old high school boyfriends; why can't Ally do the same with one of her exes? The journey she embarks on, however, is mostly cringe-worthy and only has sporadic humorous scenes.

"50/50"

Cancer is generally not a funny thing, so making a humorous movie on the subject is a tough proposition. 50/50 presents a few light laughs throughout, however, and tries to tackle a topic that most films deal with only in the saddest of situations.

Twenty-seven-year-old Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "Inception") is dating Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard, "The Help"). He works for a radio station with his buddy Kyle (Seth Rogen, "The Green Hornet") and overall has an okay life, at least until his doctor diagnoses him with a rare form of cancer. Adam gives Rachael an out, saying that if she wants to break up with him, he'll be fine with it, but she insists that she will be there to support him, as do Kyle and also Adam's mother, Diane (Anjelica Huston, "When in Rome"). He starts to do therapy at the hospital, his therapist being 24-years-old (Anna Kendrick, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse") and in the process of getting her PhD, and that helps; Adam also starts chemotherapy and makes some new friends there. He looks up his chances online to see how many people beat this type of cancer, and it says 50% (hence the movie title), but the chemo isn't working on him; eventually he must have surgery, which will either remove the tumor in his spine or possibly make it worse.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Upcoming movie: "War Horse"

War Horse will be in theaters on December 28th of this year, and Disney has just sent out their official "one-sheet" regarding the movie. Newcomer Jeremy Irvine plays Albert, and the film is being directed by Steven Spielberg.

See below:

Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13
U.S. Release date: December 28, 2011

Cast: Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbell
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producers: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
Executive Producers: Frank Marshall, Revel Guest
Screenplay by: Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
Based on the book by: Michael Morpurgo
and the recent stage play by Nick Stafford, produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot

DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.

The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. “War Horse” is one of the great stories of friendship and war— a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is currently on Broadway. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history.

*all pictures provided by Disney.

"Real Steel"

Real Steel just might be the most unique movie of the year. I had decent expectations for it, since it's a Disney/Dreamworks movie, but the actual film blew those expectations out of the water, and it is one of the most enjoyable movies I have seen in 2011 thus far.

Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), a former boxer, is always on the lookout for the next big robot boxing opportunity, and he owes a lot of money to a lot of people. He has an 11-year-old son, Max (Dakota Goyo, "Thor"), whom Charlie hasn't seen since he was born, but when Max's mother dies, Charlie suddenly gains custody of him. He makes a deal with Max's uncle (James Rebhorn, TV's "White Collar") that he will take care of him for the summer, since the uncle and aunt have plans to summer in Italy - for $50,000 up front, and $50,000 at the end of the summer. Charlie then uses the $50,000 to buy Noisy Boy, an international robot ... and promptly destroys it in his first match. When Max finds an old "sparring" robot in a junkyard and restores him, however, it turns out that they just might have a winner on their hands.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Moneyball"

The film Moneyball is based on the real-life story of the Oakland A's, one of the least winningest teams in baseball before they started applying "moneyball" theories to make up their roster. From what I can tell, a lot of the story has been changed or altered for the movie, but the story presented in the film is a captivating one, especially with Brad Pitt playing the lead character, Billy Beane.

Billy Beane (Brad Pitt, "The Tree of Life"), the general manager of the Oakland A's, has just lost three of his best players, and he's looking to recruit some new ones. On a trip to the Cleveland Indians office, he meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill, "Get Him to the Greek"), a Yale whiz kid who is great with statistics. Instead of buying an Indians player, he buys Peter, and together they start to put together a team based on statistics rather than actual playing ability, or at least what they have seen in footage of the players. The manager (coach) of the team, Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman, soon to star in "The Ides of March"), doesn't agree with Billy's ideas, and he tries to play the best players only; however, Billy has ways of getting around this.

"Dolphin Tale"

Dolphin Tale was definitely better than I thought it would be, and the interesting thing is that it is based on a true story, parts of which they show footage of at the end of the movie. At some points, though, the movie tries too hard to be "cutesy" and family-friendly.

Sawyer (Nathan Gamble, "The Dark Knight") is stuck in summer school and isn't too happy about it. His cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell, TV's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager") is shipping out to the army and Sawyer knows the summer is going to be super boring. On his way to school one day, however, he finds a dolphin stranded on the beach, and a crew of people come to take her to the marine hospital nearby. Sawyer stops by to visit the dolphin - now named Winter - one day and meets the people who run the hospital: Dr. Clay Haskitt (Harry Connick Jr., "P.S. I Love You") and his daughter Hazel (newcomer Cozi Zuehlsdorff), and since Winter likes him, he makes it a point to stop by every day to see how she is doing. Winter's tail must be cut off because of infection, however, and she must learn a new way to swim; the way she adapts to swimming will eventually fracture her body. Sawyer talks to Dr. McCarthy (Morgan Freeman, "Red"), and the doctor is going to try to make a prosthetic tale for Winter, something that has never been done before for a dolphin.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"I Don't Know How She Does It"

I just read the book that on which this movie is based, and the movie is barely recognizable when compared to the novel, except for the names of the characters. Ages, locations, and even characteristics have been changed, as well as entire scenes cut out from the novel to the movie, so it will be easy for me to separate the movie from its novel; though I will say, as in the case of 99% of novel-to-movie adaptations, the novel was better. The movie ended up being cute, though, and I still recommend it for a fun night out.

Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker, "Sex and the City 2") does it all. She has two kids, a little boy and a girl, and she's married to Richard (Greg Kinnear, "Salvation Boulevard"), who also works full-time. They have a nanny, Paula (Jessica Szohr, TV's "Gossip Girl"), who takes care of the kids when they are both gone during the day, but she often shows up late, when both Kate and Richard need to dash off to work. Kate lands a big account and learns that she will be working in New York half the week (she and her family live in Boston) with Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan, "Remember Me"), a handsome finance man. Kate is already a professional "juggler," but now she must learn to adapt even more, while still making time for her kids and husband.

"The Lion King 3D"

This review is a little unusual, because it is about a movie that was released 17 years ago: The Lion King. The movie is now out on Blu-Ray this year and, as a result, is being re-released in theaters for a limited time in 3D. When the movie originally debuted, I was 7 years old and living in Chicago; now I am 24. Does the movie stand the test of time? Read on to find out.

The plot summary, in case you were born after '94 or have been living under a rock for the past 17 years: Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas when young; Matthew Broderick as an adult) is born to the lion king Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Sarabi (Madge Sinclair). He is in line to inherit the throne, and his uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) isn't too happy about that, because previously Scar was second in line to the throne. Scar enlists his hyena friends to kill both Mufasa and Simba, but only Mufasa is killed; he makes Simba believe it's Simba's fault, and tells him to run and don't look back. Simba is lucky enough to find two friends, Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) and Timon (Nathan Lane), and he grows up with them by his side. When Simba's former best friend Nala (Moira Kelly) stumbles upon him one day, she is shocked to find him alive, as Scar told everyone that he died with Mufasa. Nala implores Simba to return to Pride Rock and take his rightful place as king, as Scar has ruined the kingdom and everyone is starving. Simba decides to return and confront his uncle and save Pride Rock from ruin.

"Drive"

Any movie with Ryan Gosling is a must-see for me, especially after his great performance in Crazy, Stupid, Love, so I was excited to see Drive - it looked like it would be an action movie with some gangsters thrown in. Unfortunately, as one reviewer commented, Drive ended up being more of a "film" than a "movie," and once it took a turn for the violent, I lost interest.

Driver (Gosling) has a part-time job doing stunt driving for the movies. At night, he drives for heists, his one rule being that his criminal clients get 5 minutes and then he's gone, with or without them. He lives in a small apartment in LA and mostly keeps to himself, until he meets one of his neighbors, Irene (Carey Mulligan, "Never Let Me Go"), and her son Benicio (newcomer Kaden Leos). He starts to fall for her, although she tells him that her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac, "Sucker Punch"), is in jail. When Standard gets out of jail early, he owes people money for "protection" while he was there, and he can't pay them back. Driver decides to help him so that Irene and Benicio will be safe, and Standard's debt will be paid.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Muppets spoof trailer: "Pig with the Froggy Tattoo"

I actually kind of like this trailer more than the real one ... check it out, and click here to be taken to the Muppets Facebook page.

The Muppets is in theaters on November 23rd.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Win a copy of Disney's "Spooky Buddies: The Curse of the Halloween Hound" on DVD/Blu-Ray!

Aww. Not spooky at all!
Walt Disney's Spooky Buddies: The Curse of the Halloween Hound is out in stores on September 20th, but why buy a copy when you can WIN one?

Check out the giveaway over at my Examiner page.

Interview with Kenny Wormald, star of the new "Footloose"

I got a chance to speak via phone recently with Kenny Wormald, who plays Ren McCormack - the role formerly played by Kevin Bacon - in the new Footloose remake, which comes to theaters on October 14th. I have seen the movie already at a screening, and it's great; I actually liked it more than the original film from 1984.

Here's what Kenny had to say:

I know you and the cast and director have been on tour promoting Footloose. What has been your favorite city to show it in, and how many times have you actually seen it so far?

I’ve seen it about 6 times now, maybe 6 and a half, and I’d have to say it was the best to screen it at Boston and see it at home in front of my family and friends. My character is from Boston as well, so even the people that did know me … I feel like they were rooting for me by the end. But every city has been great – even Minneapolis was a blast. We went to state fairs, and are doing all this cool stuff, and in Chicago we went to a Cubs game. But obviously being at home was the best.

You went to Detroit too, I think?

Yeah. Detroit was actually great too, it was a great turnout. We went to a festival there.

I think it’s called Arts, Beats, and Eats.

Yes, Arts, Beats, and Eats, that’s what it was.

Yup. I was going to see Footloose that day but I knew that parking and everything would be crazy, so I actually saw it two days earlier than that, at a screening.

That’s awesome. They’re showing it everywhere, it’s kinda nuts.

Did you watch the original one to prepare for it?

I’ve seen the original one a ton of times, just growing up - on VH1, it’s just one of those movies that you kind of always see. So I’ve seen it a million times, it’s just when I booked the role there was 2 months in between shooting and I didn’t watch it. I didn’t want to study it, I knew the movie so well but I didn’t know exactly how he [Kevin Bacon] said lines and words and that’s how I wanted it. Because you don’t want to feel like you’re mimicking anyone.

Click here to read the rest of the interview at Examiner.com.

Footloose trailer #2

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"I Don't Know How She Does It" - book review and movie

The movie adaptation of I Don't Know How She Does It, by Allison Pearson, hits theaters on September 16th, and I will be seeing a screening of it on Thursday, so check back on the 16th for my review.

Meanwhile, I read the book that the movie is based on to see if I would like it, and it's hilarious. The main difference that I can see between the book and the movie is that the novel takes place in England, whereas I assume the movie will be taking place in the US, probably in New York, since Sarah Jessica Parker doesn't have an English accent in the trailer.

In the movie, we have:
Kate Reddy .... Sarah Jessica Parker
*Kate is the main character, a mom with two kids who also works 40+ hours a week as a hedge fund manager.

Richard .... Greg Kinnear
*Richard is Kate's husband, and works full-time as well as an architect.

Jack Abelhammer ... Pierce Brosnan
*Kate and Jack have an "email affair" of sorts. In the novel, he lives in NYC and she lives in London, but she's frequently in NYC for business.

Chris Bunce ... Seth Myers
*Coworker of Kate's and all around "prat."

Momo Hahn ... Olivia Munn
*24-year-old coworker of Kate's.

Paula ... Jessica Szohr
*Kate and Richard's nanny, also in her early 20's.

If the film is anywhere near as good as the book was, it should be a funny movie! Click here to see my review at my book blog, Books I Think You Should Read.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Real Steel" premieres in Paris

photos courtesy of Disney
Real Steel, which was filmed in Detroit, had its Paris premiere on September 6th. Real Steel will be out in theaters on October 7th.

Some "fun facts" about the movie, as provided in the press release:
• “Real Steel” is set in the near future, where robots have replaced boxers in the ring, and is directed by Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum,” “Date Night”).

• “Real Steel” stars Hugh Jackman (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “The Prestige”) as Charlie Kenton, a financially strapped, risk-taking former boxer who now makes his living on an underworld robot boxing circuit, operating the metal pugilists that made his human profession obsolete.

• The robots each have a distinctive look, personality and color scheme and range in size from 7’6” to 8’5” in height. Based on human form, they each have two legs, two arms, a torso and a head—with the exception of a two-headed bot aptly named “Twin Cities.”

• In addition to their distinctive personas, every robot has a specific sound personality. When a robot lands a punch there’s a sound specific to his skeletal material, his mechanisms, his bulk and his mass and there’s also an aura sound so that just merely by being turned on every robot has a whir or a whoosh or an engine hum or the sound or a computer.

• Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”), who plays Bailey, never saw herself making a boxing film, but when she read the heartfelt script she was won over.

• Toronto-native Dakota Goyo was chosen from thousands of 10-year-old boys who auditioned for the role of Max, Hugh Jackman’s on-screen son, as part of an international casting search.

"Contagion"

This movie is definitely not one for the germaphobes, and in the bathroom after the film, people were scrubbing their hands maybe a bit more vigorously than usual. With a cast of many A-listers, Contagion will do well at the box office, as it should: it's an interesting take on the global virus phenomenon, and it shows how the country and its people might eventually deteriorate if such an outbreak were to actually happen.

There are a few different stories going on during the film. Mitch (Matt Damon, "The Adjustment Bureau") and Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow, "Country Strong") live with Mitch's two children from a previous marriage. Beth comes home from an overseas trip to Hong Kong and is not feeling well; it's clear she has something serious when she has a seizure and dies two days later. Mitch's son soon has these same symptoms, and quickly dies as well. Mitch, luckily, is immune to the disease, but is still kept at a hospital for further testing.

Meanwhile Alan (Jude Law, "Repo Men") is a blogger with a huge following, who believes that a dose of the plant Forsythia is the cure to the disease. He believes he has the disease, and he takes forsythia and his symptoms go away. He's anxious to talk to any "bigwigs" he can about it, and he sets his sights on Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne, TV's "CSI"), who is trying to find a cure. Cheever is working with Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road") and has sent her to Minnesota to work with others in coming up with a cure.

In yet another storyline, Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard, "Inception") has been kidnapped in China for a ransom - her kidnapper wants his village to be safe and wants the cure from the U.S. government.

"Warrior"

I was curious to see Warrior, because friends of mine had seen screenings of it previously and had raved about it. It ended up being an interesting movie that had complex characters, or, as another reviewer says (to paraphrase), "a family drama disguised as an MMA fighting movie."

Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy, "Inception") took off with his mom as a teen because his father (Nick Nolte, "Arthur") was a heavy drinker, leaving behind his brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton, "Animal Kingdom"). Now Tommy's back, and he wants to enter the Sparta MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting competition, a "winner take all" tournament for the huge prize of $5 million. What he doesn't know is that his brother, now a high school physics teacher, has entered the competition as well, and badly needs the money; his house is in danger of being foreclosed upon soon, and without the money he and his family will have to move out. Brendan used to be a UFC fighter and Tommy used to box/wrestle in high school, and they both make it to the top 16 of the tournament.

Friday, September 2, 2011

"Scarface"

On August 31st, Fathom Events had a special nationwide screening of Scarface, presumably to celebrate the release of the film on Blu-Ray this month. As an Examiner, I was invited to attend, and I actually had never seen the movie before - to be fair, it came out in theaters in 1983, four years before I was born - and since since it has become something of an iconic movie, I was interested to see it. The screening I went to, at AMC Livonia, has a respectable 30-40 people attending, though I heard that the screening at AMC Star Southfield only had about 10-15, and a featurette was played beforehand, giving away some plot points of the film to me. I enjoyed the movie, and it is probably one of the defining movies in Al Pacino's career.

For those who don't know the story: Tony Montana (Al Pacino, "You Don't Know Jack") comes to the United States on a boat from Cuba. He and his best friend Manny (Steven Bauer, "Primal Fear") are put into a holding camp of sorts for immigrants, and Manny makes a deal with a drug lord that the lord will get them out if they kill an enemy of theirs who is being sent to the camp. After they get out, they start working at a small Cuban restaurant, and eventually said drug lord takes them to meet Frank (Robert Loggia, "Independence Day"), a big time gangster who ends up giving Tony his start in the cocaine industry. Frank's girlfriend is Elvira (a very young Michelle Pfeiffer, "Hairspray"), and Tony immediately falls for her; he wants to marry her, but since she is with Frank, it's a problem, because he knows that if he steals her from him, Frank will probably kill him.