Saturday, June 30, 2012

Your Sister's Sister


I figured that any movie starring Emily Blunt would be good, but Your Sister's Sister fails to take advantage of its cast due to its slow plot. The story is uneven at times, and it undermines the movie as a whole; ultimately the movie plays out more like real life than a scripted movie, and there's a reason for this.

The film opens with a group toasting to the memory of their friend Tom, who died a year earlier. Tom's brother, Jack (Mark Duplass, Safety Not Guaranteed), almost ruins the party by giving a melancholy toast, so his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) suggests he take some time for himself and relax at her father's cabin; they live in Washington and the cabin is right on the lake, making it a great spot to "get away" for the weekend. Jack decides to bike to the cabin (as well as take the ferry), and when he arrives he encounters someone unexpected: Iris's sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt, TV's United States of Tara), who came there to get away as well, having just broken up with her girlfriend. The two of them have a lengthy conversation in the kitchen and then (even though Hannah is a lesbian) they decide to have sex; though Hannah "hasn't ridden that bicycle in a while," as she puts it, she likes Jack -- and both of them are pretty drunk.

The next morning they're in for a surprise - Iris comes up to the cabin to check up on Jack. Jack pleads with Hannah to keep their one-night stand a secret, but Iris then tells Hannah that she is in love with Jack. Hannah must decide whether she should tell Iris or not about their encounter, and Iris has to decide if she wants to tell Jack about her feelings for him.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Magic Mike


Contrary to what you might believe, Magic Mike (aka "the stripper movie") is not just about stripping and dancing. It's actually more of a cautionary tale against "the life. The trailer will make you think the movie is going to be all fun and games, with a love story between Channing Tatum and the main female lead thrown into the mix, but it turns out the "main female lead" is barely in the movie, as the film focuses more on the dancers and Tatum in particular.

"Magic Mike" (Channing Tatum, The Vow) is almost thirty and has been stripping for six years. His real passion is designing custom furniture, but he needs a loan from the bank to be able to pursue that dream, and because his work is cash-only (wink, wink), Mike's credit is too poor to get a loan. He has a side job working for a roofer, and it's there that he meets Adam, aka The Kid (Alex Pettyfer, In Time), who he recruits to be a stripper. Alex is strapped for cash, so this job ends up being perfect for him, and it turns out he has a knack for stripping too. Mike meets Alex's sister, Brooke (Cody Horn, TV's Rescue Me), who doesn't really want Alex to be a stripper, and Mike likes Brooke a lot; Brooke, however, doesn't want anything to do with "the life" and also already has a boyfriend.

Ted


I had pretty low expectations going in to Ted, and I wasn't disappointed. Parts of the film were hilarious, but other parts seemed to drag. I read a tweet that said something like "If you want to see Peter Griffin in bear form, go see Ted," which I very much agree with - the director and writer of the film is Seth MacFarlane, who voices Peter Griffin in the often raunchy TV show Family Guy, and you can definitely see his humor coming through in the movie.

John (played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg, Contraband) is a lonely boy growing up, and when his parents give him a kid-sized teddy bear for Christmas, he's overjoyed. He makes a wish one night that his teddy bear was real and could talk, and when he wakes up the next morning, lo and behold, Ted greets him with a smile. John's parents are initially freaked out by this, but soon say it's a "Christmas miracle!" and Ted quickly becomes famous as news outlets rush to interview him.

We then flip to present day, where John is working at a rental car dealership and still living with Ted. Unfortunately, John's girlfriend of four years, Lori (Mila Kunis, Friends with Benefits), also lives with them, and she's getting a little sick of Ted being around all the time. She asks him to ask Ted to move out, so Ted finds his own place and gets a job at the grocery store to pay his bills. Ted and John continue to hang out frequently, though, which doesn't make Lori happy. John must distance himself from Ted so that his relationship with Lori won't self-destruct, but he finds it hard to "break up" with Ted, who has been his friend for the past twenty-seven years.

People Like Us

I had seen the trailer for People Like Us a while back and it looked interesting, so when the chance arose to see it at a screening, I was excited to see the movie. The film lived up to my expectations, for the most part, although it would benefit from a shorter runtime; it clocks in at about one hour and fifty-five minutes.

Sam (Chris Pine, This Means War) lives in NYC, on the other side of the country from his mom (Michelle Pfeiffer, Dark Shadows) and dad. When his father passes away, however, he and his girlfriend (Olivia Wilde, In Time) fly to L.A., arriving late and missing the funeral. Sam's father was a music producer, and Sam remembers him as being distant and never spending much time with him, which is why Sam has only returned to L.A. a handful of times over the years. When his dad's lawyer meets with Sam regarding the will, Sam finds out something rather startling: his father has left $150,000 in cash in an old shaving kit, with a note instructing Sam to make sure that someone named Josh received the money. Sam goes to the address listed in the note and finds Frankie (Elizabeth Banks, What to Expect When You're Expecting) and her son, Josh, and soon learns that Frankie is his half-sister. He starts to get close to them without telling them the whole story, and he finds that he has more in common with them than he originally thought he would.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One Night Stand

Actors performing a musical in One Night Stand
When I was an undergrad at the University of Michigan, I was also in the Residential College (a smaller college within the main one), and each year they would put on "Kamikaze," in which writers, actors, and stagehands would come together and write and perform a play. The catch was that they had only twenty-four hours - one full day - to write this play and then have the actors learn their lines. The play always came together beautifully, though, and this is the idea behind the movie One Night Stand; the difference being that the team must compose four fifteen-minute musicals, with at least two songs and a dance number in each. Needless to say, this is a daunting task, but with a team of Broadway, TV, and movie pros working together, it can definitely be done.

The film starts out in the wee hours of the night and early morning, when the composers and writers break out into teams and write four musicals. They have Polaroids of the actors, who will be cast later, and they have to decide on the theme of their musical and then write it within the next few hours. Once the musicals are written, then the actors have to learn their lines and songs, and the musicals will be performed the next night - twenty-four hours after the crew started writing them.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brave


Brave was definitely not what I expected. Though I had heard it was one of the first Disney/Pixar movies where a strong heroine determines her own fate, rather than waiting around for a prince to rescue her, the film veers off-topic about midway through the movie and soon becomes unrecognizable from the initial plot.

Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald, No Country for Old Men), pronounced "MEH-reh-dah," is an unusual princess. She lives with her family in Scotland - her mother, the Queen, and father, the King, and her three adorable, but often mischievous, triplet brothers. Merida likes to practice archery in her free time, so when suitors from the other Scottish clans attempt to prove their worth to her, she decides on archery as the game of choice. Merida decides that since she is a first-born, she too can compete for her own hand in marriage - her freedom. Her mother (voiced by Emma Thompson, Men in Black 3), however, strongly disagrees with this, and tells Merida that she must follow tradition.

This upsets the teenaged Merida, who isn't ready to have a husband, and she rides off into the woods in a huff. She runs into a witch there (voiced by Julie Walters, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2), and gets her to make her a spell to give to her mother so that Merida can change her fate. It changes her fate, all right, but not in the way she thinks it will: it turns her mother - SPOILER - into a bear. Her father (voiced by Billy Connolly, Gulliver's Travels) has one "peg leg" due to an incident with a bear when Merida was a little girl, and when he sees a bear in the castle he and the other Scottish clans try to attack it; Merida must then hide the bear (her mother) until she can find an antidote to the spell and get her "real" mother back.

Safety Not Guaranteed


I was excited to see Safety Not Guaranteed because it stars Jake Johnson, who plays Nick on TV's New Girl. However, actors Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza really steal the show, playing a man who thinks he can travel back in time and a girl who agrees to go with him, respectively.

As the movie opens, we see Darius (Aubrey Plaza, TV's Parks and Recreation) interviewing for a job, and boring her interviewer by retelling almost her entire life story. She's graduated from college and is currently an intern at Seattle Magazine, where she accomplishes such exciting tasks as stocking the restroom with toilet paper. When one of the writers, Jeff (Jake Johnson), pitches a story about a newspaper ad he saw, Darius jumps at the chance to work with him, and Jeff chooses her and another intern, Arnau (Karan Soni, 1600 Penn), to travel with him and stake out the man's Post Office box.

The ad reads: "WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety Not Guaranteed." Intriguing, right? The team's first matter of business is to find out who wrote the ad, and when they find the man, named Kenneth (Mark Duplass, Greenberg), Jeff approaches him at his house. Kenneth doesn't trust Jeff, though, so soon Jeff sends in Darius, who wins Kenneth over with her "intensity," as he says. Soon she and Kenneth are meeting every day to prepare for the "mission," as he calls it, and although he's definitely not "all there," she finds herself attracted to him. At the same time, Jeff is meeting up with an old girlfriend, Liz (Jenica Bergere, Coming & Going), and is encouraging Arnau to "hook up" with a girl he meets on the trip too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Disney movie MALEFICENT to be released in March 2014

Angelina Jolie in the title role of Maleficent
Maleficent is one of Disney's evilest villains, from the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty, and she will get her own movie come March 14, 2014, with Angelina Jolie in the title role. It will also star Elle Fanning, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, and Juno Temple, among others.

Angelina Jolie seems like she would make an excellent evil queen! The movie is also in 3D which might lend an air of "witchiness" to the film too.

Will you check out Maleficent when it hits theaters?

From the press release:

Burbank, CA (June 19, 2012) – The Walt Disney Studios announced today that production began Wednesday, June 13th, on “Maleficent,” starring Academy Award®–winning actress Angelina Jolie. Directed by two-time Oscar®-winning production designer Robert Stromberg (“Avatar,” “Alice in Wonderland”), in his directorial debut, and produced by Joe Roth, “Maleficent” is written by Linda Woolverton (“The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast”) and executive produced by Angelina Jolie, Don Hahn, Matt Smith and Palak Patel.

Co-starring in the film are Sharlto Copley (“District 9”), Elle Fanning (“Super 8”), Sam Riley (“On the Road”), Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”), Miranda Richardson (“The Hours”), Juno Temple (“Atonement”) and Lesley Manville (“Secrets & Lies”).

This is the untold story of Disney’s most beloved villain, Maleficent, from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” The film reveals the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse the baby, Aurora. Behind-the-scenes talent includes Academy Award®–winning cinematographer Dean Semler (“Dances with Wolves,” “In the Land of Blood and Honey”), production designer Gary Freeman (“Saving Private Ryan,” “The Bourne Supremacy”), two-time Oscar® nominated costume designer Anna B. Sheppard (“Schindler’s List,” “The Pianist”) and seven-time Academy Award–winning makeup artist Rick Baker (“Planet of the Apes,” “Men in Black”).

“Maleficent” is scheduled for a March 14, 2014 release in 3D.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rock of Ages


The plot of Rock of Ages is essentially filler between catchy songs. Girl moves to L.A. to "make it big," girl meets boy, girl also gets to meet Stacee Jaxx, one of the most popular music stars in the '80s, there's conflict, etcetera. But we all know we're not seeing Rock of Ages for the plot, but rather for the music, so this can be overlooked - and the music scenes definitely deliver.

Sherrie (Julianne Hough, Footloose) takes a bus from Oklahoma to L.A. with the dreams of being a famous singer. On her first night walking the Sunset Strip, her suitcase is stolen, and she meets Drew (Diego Boneta, TV's Pretty Little Liars), a singer/guitarist who works at The Bourbon, one of the more prominent clubs on the Strip. He gets her a job as a waitress, and their romance begins. At the same time, The Bourbon, owned/managed by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin, TV's 30 Rock) is in financial trouble, and nothing he or his business partner Lonny (Russell Brand, Arthur) can do will save it. Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) playing for the last time ever with his group, Arsenal, before going solo, however, could save them, and Dennis strikes a deal with Stacee's slimy manager Paul (Paul Giamatti, Ides of March) to have him play The Bourbon. They're all in for one of the craziest and most memorable nights of their lives - that is, if Stacee Jaxx shows up on time to play the concert.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

To prepare for a screening of the third installment, I decided to rewatch the first two Madagascar movies. To educate the uninitiated, the Madagascar films follow a hippo, a giraffe, a zebra, and a lion, who lived in the Central Park Zoo in NYC but somehow found themselves in Madagascar (movie #1) and then Africa (movie #2). In the third installment, the zoo animals go to Monte Carlo to find their friends the penguins, who can fly them home to NYC.

The film starts off in Africa where the second left off, and Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller, Tower Heist) is depressed and wants to go back home to NYC. For Alex's birthday, his friends Marty the zebra (Chris Rock, What To Expect When You're Expecting), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith, TV's Hawthorne), and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer, TV's Friends) make him a sand castle-like replica of the city to cheer him up, but it doesn't work very well. The zoo animals can't go home until the penguins return with their plane, since the penguins took the plane to Monte Carlo. Alex decides they have waited long enough for the penguins to return, and so the animals swim (and row) to Monte Carlo themselves. The monkeys and the penguins have been taking the Monte Carlo casino for all it's worth, but Alex and his friends "rescue" them, and soon they attract the attention of an Animal Control captain, Chantel DuBois (Francis McDormand, Transformers: Dark of the Moon). The friends must find their way back to the city and avoid the Captain, and the only way to do this is to blend in - so they join the circus.

Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding


You might think you've seen Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding before in some incarnation or another, and you wouldn't be completely wrong. Although the "aging hippie grandma reunites with daughter and grandchildren" story isn't totally original, this film manages to put a fresh spin on the genre, with both the the script and acting very well done.

Diane (Catherine Keener, Trust) is talking with her husband Mark (Kyle MacLachlan, TV's Sex and the City) in their kitchen one day when he abruptly blurts out that he wants a divorce. Hurt by this news, she grabs the kids (Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Nat Wolff, New Year's Eve, respectively) and makes the drive from NYC to Woodstock, back to her freewheeling mother (Jane Fonda, Georgia Rule) whom she hasn't seen for the past twenty years. Grace is nonetheless delighted to see her daughter and grandchildren, and thus begins an epic few weeks for the clan.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GIVEAWAY: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island DVD/Blu-Ray


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island came out on DVD and Blu-Ray yesterday, and you can win a copy here for FREE!

Check out the widget below, and then enter in the Rafflecopter form.

Contest will end next Thursday, June 14th, at 12:01am EST so make sure to get in your entries before then!!

You can read my review of the movie here as well.

Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 3, 2012

For the Love of Money


Although the story in For the Love of Money is true, and spans over twenty years, the film is often confusing, and characters are introduced and then taken away in the blink of an eye. Though it boosts an interesting array of actors such as James Caan and Jeffrey Tambor, most of the more well-known actors have only small roles in the film, yet are billed as if they are the main actors in it.

The story starts in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1973. Isaac (later played by Yehuda Levi, TV's The Arbitrator) works in his family's restaurant and bar, which also doubles as a "Monte Carlo" (a casino) in the back. They've had some troubles with Tommy (Edward Furlong, The Green Hornet), a small-time gangster who likes to mess with people, and he tries to play a nasty trick on an employee of the bar, to which Isaac intervenes. Soon, the family closes the bar, and sends Isaac and his cousin Yoni (later played by Joshua Biton, Larry Crowne) to Los Angeles so that they will be safe. Isaac starts out working in a restaurant there, but soon realizes his future will be more lucrative if he buys his own restaurant, and he works with a real estate agent, Mr. Solomon (Jeffrey Tambor, Win Win), and is soon buying and selling restaurants for profit.

Isaac and Yoni open a mechanic's garage together, and are determined to live the "American Dream" without getting involved with gangsters. This all changes, though, when Micky (James Caan, Middle Men), a high-profile L.A. gangster, brings his car to the shop one day, and one of their mechanics does a rush job on it. Needless to say, Micky isn't pleased, and after a heated phone conversation, a hit is put out on Isaac. At the same time, Isaac's brother Levi (Oded Fehr, The Mummy Returns) finally gets out of jail, and comes to L.A. with big ideas for Isaac and Yoni, which would involve them getting into "illegal activities."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Now that Mirror, Mirror has come and gone from theaters, we can focus on the darker, more serious of the two Snow White movies being released this year: Snow White and the Huntsman. The trailer made the film look deliciously dark, and it definitely was; styled after the original Grimm's fairy tales, which are far too sinister for children, the new film is a mix of Pan's Labyrinth, Robin Hood, and Alice in Wonderland.

King Magnus lives in medieval England with his wife and daughter. He is heartbroken when the Queen - his wife - dies, until he meets Ravenna (Charlize Theron, Young Adult), who is a captive of an army that comes to the kingdom to challenge his army. He marries her the very next day, but on their wedding night he's in for a surprise: Ravenna is an evil woman who marries kings and destroys their kingdoms, and she stabs King Magnus in the heart with a knife. His daughter, Snow White, finds the King dead and tries to escape the castle, but Ravenna catches her and banishes her to the tower, where she will live out the rest of her days.

Now Snow White (Kristen Stewart, the Twilight Saga films) has come of age, and the Queen's magical mirror is no longer telling her that the Queen is the "fairest one of all." To now be the fairest one, new Queen Ravenna must kill Snow White and take her heart. She sends her creepy brother Finn (Sam Spruell, The Hurt Locker) to retrieve Snow White, but Snow scrapes his face with a nail and flees the kingdom. The Queen hires the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, The Avengers) to find and kill Snow White, with the promise of bringing his dead wife back to life, but once the Huntsman finds Snow and figures out he's been tricked, he runs away with her, as they try to stay one step ahead of the Queen and her evil minions.

The Intouchables

I had heard many good things about The Intouchables before seeing a screening of it, as it had screened several times before in my area, and was looking forward to seeing it. It definitely lived up to the hype, which makes sense as it's the second most successful French film of all time at the French box office, and it is one of the funnier movies I've seen recently as well.

The wealthy Philippe (Francois Cluzet, Tell No One) is looking for a caretaker, as he was paralyzed in a hang-gliding accident and is unable to move from the neck down. He interviews a slew of qualified candidates including Driss (Omar Sy, Micmacs), who doesn't even seem to be taking the interview seriously. Nonetheless, Driss sticks in Phillippe's mind and is hired. Driss is a poor kid from the projects and could definitely use a job, so he agrees to take it; the fact that the position comes with his own room and bathroom appeals to him too. Driss and Philippe quickly become friends, and Driss encourages Philippe to step out of his comfort zone and connect more with others, including a woman with whom Philippe has been exchanging letters.