Friday, January 31, 2014

Movie Review: Labor Day

Labor Day movie review

Another book-turned-movie has hit theaters, and it's definitely worth checking out - Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard. Kate Winslet quietly picked up a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the movie, and although she didn't win (Cate Blanchett has been sweeping the 2014 awards), she and also Josh Brolin were very good in this film.

Adele (Winslet) rarely ventures out of the house these days; when she does, it's with her son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith), and they go grocery shopping. On this such occasion, Frank (Brolin), an escaped convict, starts talking to Henry and makes him take him over to his mother, where it's implied that harm will come to them if they don't give him a ride. They all go back to their house and Adele treats his wounds; he escaped from a hospital by jumping out a second-floor window. The news is soon awash with news of Frank's escape, as he was serving an 18-year sentence for murder, and Adele and Henry must decide if they can trust him, while at the same time learning that he's not exactly whom the media portrays him to be.

Movie Review: That Awkward Moment

That Awkward Moment movie review

I had been wanting to see That Awkward Moment for a long time, as it looked like a cute romcom with believable characters and stories. Unfortunately, there aren't very many funny moments in the film, save for a spare few, and most of the best jokes are in the movie's trailer, which is something I always hate. The cast does their best with the material, but there's not much you can do with an unfunny script.

The movie focuses on three guys: Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller), and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan). Jason is sick of girls giving him the "So ..." speech (meaning, "So, where is this going?" relationship-wise) and he has a "roster" of girls with whom he hooks up. Daniel has a "wingman" named Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) who helps him talk to girls at the bar they frequent, but soon he finds himself falling for her. Mikey finds out that his wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas), has been cheating on him with her lawyer, and wants a divorce; he's blindsided by the news, as they've been married since 23 and both are in their ideal careers already. The three guys make a pact to stay relationship-free for the moment, and only pursue hookups, but after Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), he finds it harder and harder to stay true to their pact.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Monster Jam is back, March 1st at Ford Field! #MJDetroit

Monster Jam Detroit giveaway Yes/No Films
Maximum Destruction truck
I did a giveaway for Monster Jam tickets last month in Detroit, and now the trucks will be back at Ford Field this March!

I won't be able to attend, so I have two family four-packs to give away - check below for a discount code as well as the contest.

Show description:
Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam®, starring the biggest performers on four wheels: Monster Jam monster trucks! The twelve-feet-tall, ten-thousand-pound machines will bring you to your feet, racing and ripping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over or smash through! Monster Jam provides a massive night’s entertainment tailored perfectly for your family’s budget, and these colorful, larger-than-life beasts are sure to capture the hearts of both young and old.

If you're thinking of buying a family four-pack, make sure to check out this deal:
  • Save over $45 with a family four-pack - includes four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, and four pit passes. Must purchase via, Ford Field Box Office or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000, and must purchase in packs of 4.
  • If you buy the package deal, you can also attend a Party in the Pits, free of charge, from 2 to 5pm! Meet the drivers, get autographs! Pit Party tickets are normally $10 each but come FREE with this package deal! If you choose to buy regular tickets, pit passes can be purchased with your order on or on the day of the event at the Ford Field Box Office.
Monster Jam Detroit giveaway Yes/No Films
AAP Grinder truck


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest ends Friday, February 7th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email on February 8th, and must respond within 24 hours, or alternate winner(s) will be chosen. Winners must live within driving distance of Detroit. Tickets will be available for pickup at Ford Field on the day of the event.

Good luck!

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TICKET GIVEAWAY: The Pretty One, 2/4 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 winners

The Pretty One movie ticket giveaway Yes/No Films
The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week with The Pretty One, playing Tuesday, February 4th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI). Gathr is in the process of limiting their Detroit-area films to one or two per month instead of four, so make sure you get in on this contest to have a chance at winning tickets.

This film looks great - I loved Zoe Kazan in Ruby Sparks, and I'm a fan of Jake Johnson's from the TV show New Girl. Ron Livingston also stars.

Film synopsis:
Audrey has all of the qualities that her identical twin sister Laurel wishes she possessed: confidence, style, independence. Alternately, Laurel, sweet but painfully awkward, feels stuck in her life, still living at home, coddling their father and obsessed with the boy next door, for whom she used to babysit. When the sisters reunite for their birthday, tragedy strikes and a fateful mix-up leaves Laurel faced with an opportunity to reinvent herself, and her life, as her beloved sibling.


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, February 2nd at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of February 3rd. Winners must respond within 24 hours or other winner(s) will be chosen. Tickets are in PDF form and will be emailed to winners, who may print two tickets each (one for you + one for a guest).

Good luck!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Review and Ticket Giveaway: Gimme Shelter, ends 1/30

Gimme Shelter movie review

Gimme Shelter isn't just the name of a Rolling Stones song, it's the demand of the movie's main character. The person who would be demanding, in this case, is Agnes Bailey, who goes by Apple, when she leaves her abusive mother's care after becoming pregnant. The film follows her from there, and we get to see how she's led a tough life so far.

Apple Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) runs away from her mother (Rosario Dawson) and goes to her father's posh New Jersey house. Only one problem: she's never met her father (Brendan Fraser) before, as he left for college immediately after getting her mother pregnant. He's now married to Joanna (Stephanie Szostak) and they have two preppy, perfect children; needless to say, Joanna isn't happy about having Apple stay with them. After she tries to make Apple get an abortion, Apple runs away again, and ends up at a shelter for pregnant teens and new mothers, where she finds that maybe she can have a family after all.

I was very impressed with Vanessa Hudgens in this film. The last movie I saw her in was 2011's Beastly, and she was in Spring Breakers last year, but she's mostly known for the High School Musical series, where she plays a clean-cut young woman; you'll find no trace of that woman here, at least not until the end of the film. Brendan Fraser, who I've not seen in a movie in a while, was replaceable as her father, but Rosario Dawson also gives a standout performance here - between her stained yellow teeth and her willingness to get Apple back (but only so she can keep collecting money from the state), she makes an impression, for better or worse.

Yes, see this movie. James Earl Jones and Ann Dowd round out the cast, and it's based on a true story; at the end of the film, stay through the credits to see the real-life people and teen moms upon which the movie is based. My only complaint about the film is that I would have liked more of a backstory for Apple - we get the basics but nothing more - and perhaps more of a story as to how her father (Fraser) and her mother met, because they currently lead polar opposite lives. I'd recommend this movie for anyone that likes dramas or a good story, and hopefully its performances won't be overlooked come awards season, since it's premiering so early in the year.

Gimme Shelter is in theaters today, January 24th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 100 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.


I have a pair of AMC tickets for one lucky reader to go see Gimme Shelter in theaters! First, check out the widget below:

Enter to win via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest will end on Thursday, January 30th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed on January 31st and must respond that day (winner's addresses due the 31st), or an alternate winner will be chosen. U.S./Canada addresses only, please.

Each household is only eligible to win ONE (1) Pack of Two (2) AMC Movie Tickets via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

TICKET GIVEAWAY: 12 O'Clock Boys, 1/28 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 winners

12 o'clock boys movie ticket contest
The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week, with 12 O'Clock Boys, playing Tuesday, January 28th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI). Gathr is in the process of limiting their Detroit-area films to one or two per month instead of four, so make sure you get in on this contest to have a chance at winning tickets.

Film synopsis:
The 12 O'CLOCK BOYS are a notorious urban dirt bike pack in Baltimore -- popping wheelies and weaving at excessive speeds through traffic, the group impressively evades the hamstrung police. In Lotfy Nathan's wild, dynamic documentary (three years in the making), their stunning antics are envisioned through the eyes of young adolescent Pug - a bright kid from the Westside obsessed with the riders and willing to do anything to join their ranks.

Premiering to critical acclaim at the SXSW and Hot Docs Film Festivals (where Nathan won the HBO Emerging Artist Award), 12 O'CLOCK BOYS provides a compelling and intimate personal story of a young boy and his dangerous, thrilling dream.


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, January 26th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of January 27th. Winners must respond within 24 hours or other winner(s) will be chosen. Tickets are in PDF form and will be emailed to winners, who may print two tickets each (one for you + one for a guest).

Good luck!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Game Time with DiGiorno Pizza! #GameTimeGoodies

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

When I'm not watching movies, I sometimes like to watch sports with my dad. We're big fans of Michigan football, especially since I'm a UM alum, and he sometimes convinces me to watch other football or basketball games with him too. UM played Wisconsin this past weekend, and we knew that we needed to head to Walmart beforehand to pick up some DiGiorno pizzas before game time.

Hmm, choices ... 

My mom and I headed to the Novi, MI Walmart location, and immediately found DiGiorno in the freezer case. Walmart currently has a Rollback on DiGiorno, so it's only $4.50 per pizza - a great deal considering it tastes like delivery (it's not delivery, it's DiGiorno!) and some pizzas can range $10+ these days. The Novi Walmart advertised them as $4.97 each in the freezer case, but they did ring up as $4.50 each.

Lots of DiGiorno pizzas to choose from!
Each pizza takes about 20-25 minutes to cook, so we decided to cook up the Rising Crust Sausage & Pepperoni pizza first - we purchased that plus the Rising Crust Supreme pizza, which has sausage, pepperoni, red and green peppers, and olives. I'm not a big olives fan so I moved them all to one side of the pizza before cooking it, as my parents both enjoy them.

Left: Rising Crust Supreme (frozen, not yet cooked)
Right: Rising Crust Sausage and Pepperoni - yum!

Supreme pizza (cooked, this time) with
some sausage & pepperoni pizza leftovers!

DiGiorno was a great addition to our basketball night, and we ended up watching the SAG Awards after that, too - and because we staggered the cooking of the pizzas, we had some of the Rising Crust Supreme pizza to enjoy during that.

Watching the game while enjoying DiGiorno's - Go Blue!

I surprised myself by liking the Supreme pizza better than the Sausage & Pepperoni - the Supreme had more of a sweet sauce, and the Sausage/Pepperoni tasted more like garlic bread in that it had little to no sauce. Interestingly enough, my mom liked the Sausage/Pepperoni better, and she usually loves veggie or Supreme pizzas.

Next time we get DiGiorno at Walmart, I may try a mushroom variety (my favorite pizza topping) or maybe one of the thin crust pizzas, but I really liked the Rising Crust pizzas we cooked this time.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Movie Review - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit movie review

Jack Ryan was originally a product of Tom Clancy, and other actors have played the character in the past. In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the character gets a reboot as an action hero, with Chris Pine in the lead role. Pine has been good in other action roles, such as in 2010's Unstoppable, and he's capable here as well; however, the script is a bit formulaic and the movie has other slight problems throughout.

Jack Ryan (Pine) joins the armed forces after 9/11, and later lands a job as an analyst on Wall Street. Before that, though, he's recruited by Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) and joins the CIA - his job at the firm is his cover. Ryan soon finds out that some of the Russian accounts his firm holds are being hidden, and he goes to Russia to investigate. Before long, he finds out what's really going on - that the accounts are part of a larger plan, involving terrorists and the economy - and he must stop the Russian terrorists before they succeed.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Movie Review: Her

Spike Jonze's Her

Her has received lots of praise from critics, and because of that, I didn't think I was going to like the movie; my opinion doesn't always line up with the majority's. However, I was truly surprised by the film, in that not only did it have a lot of humorous moments, but it has small commentaries throughout on our society and how we function - and how we might look in ten, twenty years if computers really started behaving like this.

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is in the middle of a divorce, but still wants to be friends with his soon-to-be ex, Catherine (Rooney Mara). Theodore's job is at a letter company website, which writes "beautiful handwritten letters" for those that pay them - the letter appears to be from that person, but it's actually Theodore and his coworkers who write them. He sees an ad for a new Operating System (OS), one that interacts with you, and decides to purchase one; the OS's voice (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) says her name is Samantha, and she and Theodore strike up a friendship, at first. It soon turns to something more, and we then get to see people's opinions of Theodore "dating his OS." His friend Amy (Amy Adams) thinks it's interesting and fine, but Catherine thinks it's bizarre and weird. Theodore and Samantha soon start to have problems, though, and it wakes Theodore up to the problems of dating an OS.

Movie Review: The Legend of Hercules

Legend of Hercules movie review

There are two Hercules movies coming to theaters this year, and The Legend of Hercules has the dubious privilege of being the first, starring Kellan Lutz in the title role. The other, simply named Hercules, hits theaters on July 25th, starring The Rock as the title character. I'm hoping that Hercules is better than this version, because although Legend had some visually-pleasing action scenes, overall it's your typical fluff movie.

Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) marries King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) and bears him a child. Her second child, however, is not Amphitryon's, as she was impregnated by the god Zeus in order to bear a child that will bring peace to the land: Hercules (Lutz). When the older brother and heir to the throne, Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), becomes old enough to marry, his parents match him with Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss), who is in love with Hercules - and his father sends Hercules off to war, so that he's not a distraction.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Movie Review - August: Osage County

Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep and Julia Robert have both earned SAG and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress & Best Supporting Actress for their roles in August: Osage County (pronounced Oh-say-g, by the way, not Oh-sah-jay like I originally thought). That tells you something off the bat. What you might not know is that although the film moves at a slower pace - maybe because it's based off the play of the same name - the rest of the cast is fantastic as well. Make no mistake, though: this is Streep's movie.

Violet Weston (Streep) is dying of mouth cancer, and her husband Beverly (Sam Shepard) has had enough; he hires a housekeeper to take care of them and make meals. The day after he does that, he disappears. The rest of the clan - sisters Barbara (Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), and Karen (Juliette Lewis), come home to visit with their mother, and they bring their estranged husband (Barbara) and fiance (Karen), as well as some pretty big secrets. Their aunt Mattie Fay (Margo Martindale) and her husband Charlie (Chris Cooper), who live nearby, come to visit as well, and soon enough fights and chaos ensues.

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

Mark Wahlberg, Eric Bana, Taylor Kitsch

Lone Survivor is based on a true story, that of a June 2005 mission entitled "Operation Red Wings." In the mission, which failed, SEAL Team 10 was tasked with capturing or killing Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. I had not heard of their mission before this movie, but it's definitely an interesting story, and Lone Survivor should help bring more attention to it, as well as the brave men who served in the mission.

The film starts out rather unusually, with a few main characters instead of just one on which it focuses. Lieutenant Kristensen (Eric Bana) is one of the leaders on base, and it shows him with his fellow SEALs: Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Matt Axelson (Ben Foster), and others. We get a sense of their camaraderie and how close they all are, like a family, and they soon initiate 21-year-old Shane (Alexander Ludwig) into that family. Soon, however, the main team takes off into the woods in their attempt to capture Ahmad Shahd. They do some reconnaissance first, and then form a plan of attack, until a complication strikes, and decisions have to be made; what takes place after that is a war scene that's so realistic (I'd imagine) that it's hard to watch.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Summer in February, 1/7 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 5 winners

Summer in February movie ticket contest Detroit
Welcome to 2014, movie fans!

The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week, with Summer in February, playing Tuesday, January 7th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI). Gathr is in the process of limiting their Detroit-area films to two per month instead of four, so make sure you get in on this contest to have a chance at winning tickets.

Film synopsis:
A sweeping romance set at a bohemian artist colony on the picturesque coasts of pre-war England, Summer In February is based on the true story of painter sir Alfred Munnings (Dominic Cooper, Mamma Mia!) And his blue-blood best friend Gilbert (Dan Stevens, "Downton Abbey"). Born into a working-class family, Munnings rises to become one of the premiere British artists of his time, winning the affection of aristocratic beauty Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning, Sleeping Beauty). But when Gilbert falls for Florence as well, a love triangle emerges with tragic consequences.


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, January 5th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of January 6th. Winners must respond within 24 hours or other winner(s) will be chosen. Tickets are in PDF form and will be emailed to winners, who may print two tickets each (one for you + one for a guest).

Good luck!

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