Friday, February 22, 2013


Snitch, Dwayne Johnson, The Rock

I was shocked when I found out that Snitch is based on true events, because the events that transpire throughout the movie seem very unbelievable. The movie also seemed like it was trying to be a "wake up call" to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and the government, because it informs us that the charges for a first-time drug offender are often worse than those for rape or assault. Although the movie had some good action scenes, it was oddly slow-paced at times, and failed to keep my attention throughout its runtime.

The movie opens with Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) talking to a friend via Skype. The friend, who sells drugs, asks Jason if he can have a shipment delivered to his house; Jason wavers but never definitively says no, and signs off Skype when his mom (Melina Kanakaredes) arrives home. A little while later, the package arrives at the door, and Jason signs for it - however, his friend had been caught mailing the package, and the DEA had placed a tracker in it. The DEA take Jason to jail and someone calls his dad, John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson, aka "The Rock"), who goes to the police station to try and bail Jason out. He's informed that even though Jason is a first-time offender, he will be given the maximum penalty - 10 years in jail, or more - unless he can help "snitch" on other drug dealers, like his friend did to him. Jason doesn't know any other dealers, but when John goes to the District Attorney, Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon), and offers himself as Jason's stand-in for finding dealers, she agrees. John gets introduced to some dealers, and offers his trucks for transportation, saying that he and his family need the money, but the dealers know something is up when they do a background check and find out that he's actually quite wealthy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Contest: Disney On Ice at the Palace of Auburn Hills, March 14-17

Disney On Ice Dare to Dream

I'm a huge Disney fan, whether it be the movies, the books, the TV channel, or even the park! My parents started taking me to Disney World at a young age, and I was introduced to the characters I had only previously seen in the movies. I own a few Disney movies, some of which are on VHS - the "classic" Disney movies of the late '80s and early '90s - and they are films that I enjoy watching over and over.

I've also had the opportunity to attend a few performances of Disney On Ice during the last few years, and it's not just for kids. The skating is phenomenal, and it's fun to see the Disney characters once again - this time without even leaving Michigan!

Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream will be performing at The Palace of Auburn Hills from March 14-17, 2013, and I have both a ticket discount deal and a giveaway for my readers.

A little bit about the show:

Get tangled up in Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream! Experience Disney’s hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled; as Rapunzel, her unlikely companion, Flynn, and Maximus, embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths! Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen in a magical, musical journey that all begins with a fateful kiss. And fanciful dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true. All your favorite princesses take to the ice in a spectacular finale at the ultimate Disney Princess event of a lifetime! Experience the beauty, sparkle, and spirit when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream comes to your hometown!

Discount code:
You and your family can receive $15 tickets to see Disney On Ice when you enter the code MOM during checkout. Valid for any performance but not valid on Rinkside or VIP tickets. Click here for Ticketmaster link.

Showtimes for Disney On Ice:
Thursday, March 14th, 7:30pm
Friday, March 15th, 11am or 7:30pm
Saturday, March 16th, 11am, 3:30pm, 7:30pm
Sunday, March 17th, 11am, 3:30pm, 7:30pm

I also have a ticket giveaway for the show thanks to Feld Entertainment, and the winner can request up to SIX tickets!

The giveaway will end on Friday, March 1st at 11:59pm EST. The winner can choose tickets for the Thursday, March 14th or Friday, March 15th showtimes, and will also be able to purchase more tickets if needed.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter this contest, and either live in Michigan or be able to drive to the Palace. Winner will be notified on Saturday, March 2nd and have 24 hours to respond to my email, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador and am being provided with free passes for the purpose of writing this and future blog posts. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Movies + Bahama Breeze: the perfect combo

happy hour, late night happy hour, appetizers, drinks, Bahama Breeze
In case you didn't know, I have a spin-off blog called "Yes/No Dining" ... kidding. (but maybe someday!)

Bahama Breeze is a casual dining restaurant that specializes in Caribbean food. It's currently February in Michigan - yesterday it was 40 degrees and raining out, and today it was about 30 with wind gusts - so to recreate an island experience is no easy feat. When I was invited to try Bahama Breeze's new drinks and appetizers in honor of their new late night happy hour menu, therefore, I jumped at the opportunity.

Bahama Breeze is located all over the U.S. but in Michigan they have two locations:

  • Livonia (Haggerty Rd. between 6 and 7 Mile) 
  • Troy (Big Beaver Rd. between Livernois and Rochester Rds.). 

Two new happy hour drinks at
Bahama Breeze
The manager of the restaurant seated me and my guests and then our waitress came over to ask us what we'd like for drinks. She brought us the Yaka Hula Hickey Doola and the Daisy de Santiago, two of their new drinks, and also The Painkiller - that's actually the name of it.

The Yaka Hula is from Hawaii and has Myers Dark Rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and a little Riesling in it, and the Daisy de Santiago is Chilean with Bacardi Superior rum, chartreuse, and lime juice.

My favorite ended up being The Painkiller, from the British Virgin Islands - it was delicious and didn't even taste like it had alcohol in it (those are the most dangerous drinks ...). It's made up of dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juice, and our waitress added freshly ground nutmeg while at the table. It has a story behind it too: it originated at the aptly-named Soggy Dollar Bar, where people would swim to the bar to buy it, and their dollar bills would be, of course, wet when they arrived.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Beautiful Creatures

Usually when I review movies that are based on books, I try not to compare them to the book versions. However, with Beautiful Creatures, I had just read the book about a week before, and so unfortunately it is impossible not to. In a surprising move, they've changed a LOT from the book version - some of which I knew of beforehand, like Amma and Marion, the town librarian, being combined to be just one character, named Amma - but most of which I did not know of previously. Because of that, the book and the movie almost seem like two completely separate entities; I enjoyed both, but in different ways.

Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) has been dreaming of the same girl every night. He can never see her face, but he knows he's never met her before. When Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) moves to town to live with her shut-in uncle, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), however, Ethan recognizes her from his dreams, and knows that he has to get to know her. What he finds out is that she and her family are Casters, similar to witches, and when she turns sixteen in a few months she will be Claimed, either for the Light (good) or the Dark (bad magic). Her cousin, Ridley (Emmy Rossum), who she was very close with growing up, recently turned Dark, and has been shut out of the family because of it. Lena also has no choice whether she turns Light or Dark; it will depend on who she truly is at her core. With the help of Amma (Viola Davis), the town librarian and Ethan's sort-of caretaker, Lena and Ethan research about the Curse that plagues the Duchannes women, and try to anticipate what will happen on Lena's 16th birthday.

Safe Haven

I love Nicholas Sparks' novels, but the movie adaptions aren't always as good as the books. One of my favorite movies in general is The Notebook, even though they majorly changed the book's ending for the movie, but the recent Dear John was not so great. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Safe Haven, which catches your attention from the very beginning of the movie and then will hold it for its entire almost-2 hour runtime.

In the beginning of the film, we see teary-eyed Katie (Julianne Hough) at the bus station, running away from an abusive home situation. She takes a bus to Atlanta and then a connecting bus to get her to North Carolina, where her goal is to keep to herself. She gets a job at the local restaurant, and ends up meeting Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two children who runs the general store. One night, he stops by her house in the woods and leaves a bicycle for her; she's at first offended, since he dropped it off in the middle of the night and thus violated her privacy, in her opinion, but soon she realizes that it was a nice thing for him to do. They strike up a relationship, but when he finds out her secret, she has to tell him about the person she left behind in Boston, and why she's hiding from him now.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Identity Thief

Identity Thief, Jason Bateman, movie, Melissa McCarthy

When Identity Thief first starts rolling, it's almost perfect, and I was thinking that this was going to be a 4 star movie. However, it can't decide what type of film it wants to be - a road trip, a "heist" film, a warm and fuzzy family film - and that's ultimately what drags it down. It's still a fun ride, but getting there often feels long and tedious.

Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) receives a phone call from a women's salon in Florida, confirming his appointment for the next day - even though he lives and works in Denver. He soon realizes that someone (Melissa McCarthy) has stolen his identity, and is racking up thousands of dollars in credit card charges. She even got booked for a misdemeanor but skipped out on her court date, and soon the local Denver PD come to arrest Sandy, where he figures all of this out. Worse news still: Sandy has recently started a job with a new financial company, but his boss (Daniel Cho) says that he might have to let him go because his credit is now so bad.

The Denver police say they can't arrest Diana (McCarthy) unless she was IN Denver, so Sandy proposes an alternative: he will go to Florida and find her, since he knows when her hair appointment is, and bring her back to Denver, saying that he only wants her to talk to her boss. Then, when she's confessing to him, the police can burst in and arrest her ... good plan? Sure, the police say. Sandy takes off to Florida, where he encounters Diana and convinces her to accompany him back to Florida. One problem: they can't BOTH get on a plane as Sandy Patterson so they must drive back to Colorado.

Side Effects

Side Effects was previously titled The Bitter Pill, which is a more apt title for it. The majority of the movie is very slow, but then multiple twists and turns in the last third make the end of the film a complete 180 from what it started out as.

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) was only married to Martin (Channing Tatum) for one year before he went to jail for insider trading. That was four years ago, and he's finally getting out of jail. Emily has been taking pills for depression on and off, and after she rams her car into a wall in a parking garage, she sees Dr. Banks (Jude Law), who prescribes her some pills. Eventually he prescribes her a new pill that has sleepwalking as a side effect, and Emily starts to sleepwalk. One night, she commits a crime while sleepwalking, and the court has to decide whether she did the crime (yes) but whether she can actually be charged for it or not, since she wasn't technically aware of what she was doing while she was doing it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies, zombie love, Teresa Palmer

I had been looking forward to Warm Bodies for a while now because it sounded wholly unique: a zombie/human love story, where eventually love causes the zombie to become human again. Luckily, Warm Bodies did not disappoint, though it was definitely like a typical "BRAINS! BRAINSSS!" zombie movie in some ways as well.

R (Nicholas Hoult) lives with other zombies at at what used to be the airport. He's made a home for himself in an abandoned plane, where he keeps the knickknacks he has collected, some of which are an old record player and classic records. His best friend is M (Rob Corddry), and on a good day, they're able to say one or two words to each other. R, M, and some of the other zombies get hungry one day and venture out, where they find Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) and their friends. Once they start fighting the zombies, R isn't sure if he wants to eat them, but when Perry smacks him, he gets provoked, and starts eating him, especially "the best part" - his brain - which contains his human memories; these make R feel more human, like he used to be. Most of his memories involve Julie, and after R looks up and sees her, he feels the urge to protect her rather than eat her. He kidnaps Julie and brings her back to his plane, and eventually she learns that R isn't like the other zombies; he actually has a conscience.

Stand Up Guys

Before the movie even started playing on the screen, Stand Up Guys distinguished itself by having a cast that includes Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin, as well as Julianna Margulies and Lucy Punch supporting roles. That was enough to get me to the theater, and I'm glad I went; the film almost plays out like The Hangover but for the geriatric set, with mobster touches thrown in.

Valentine (Pacino), whose friends call him Val, has just been released from prison after a 28-year sentence. His best friend Doc (Walken) picks him up, and Val tells him he wants "to party." Doc dutifully plays the role of the friend who will do anything for his just-released buddy - he takes him to a (pretty normal-looking, actually) whorehouse only to find it's now run by the daughter (Punch) of the friend who used to run it - and he takes Val to his favorite diner, where a young waitress named Alex (Addison Timlin) works. What Doc doesn't tell him, however, is that he's been hired to kill Val, and that he has 24 hours to do it; eventually, though, Val figures this out, and so their night of "partying" turns into a night of "lasts" for Val, or at least that's how he wants the night to be. They pick up their old buddy Hirsch (Arkin) from his assisted living home as well, and suddenly find themselves out on a joyride across town.