Friday, March 28, 2014

Movie Review: Bad Words

Bad Words movie review

Bad Words should appeal to those who like raunchy comedies, like The Hangover, although it's much tamer than that franchise overall. I enjoyed it a lot because I'm a spelling/grammar geek, and the story centered around a 40-year-old man (Jason Bateman) who participates in a spelling bee for children, as he finds a loophole that allows him to enter the competition. However, this film is definitely not for those who easily take offense, especially to language. (hence the movie's title)

At the beginning of the film, we meet Guy Trilby (Bateman), entering the first round of a spelling bee competition. He and his sponsor, Jenny (Kathryn Hahn), end up having to run from angry parents at the end of the bee when he takes first price, thus clinching a spot in the national bee (the "Golden Quill") in California. The bee is for children but he's found a loophole that allows him to enter it: you cannot have graduated the 8th grade after February 2011, and he never graduated past the 8th grade. Jenny writes for an online newspaper which is sponsoring him in exchange for her writing a piece on him, but she's finding it hard to get answers out of Trilby, such as why he's doing this or what he hopes to achieve by it.

At the same time, Guy is slowly making friends with Chaitanya (Rohan Chand), whom he (racistly) calls "Slumdog" - an Indian boy who has taken a shine to him, since Chaitanya doesn't have many friends of his own. Guy ends up giving "Slumdog" an education that can't be found in books, and in return, Guy seems to make a friend out of "Slumdog," albeit one that's thirty years younger than him.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

GIVEAWAY: NBC American Dream Builders and $50 Lowes Gift Card, ends 4/2

American Dream Builders, a new show on NBC, is premiering on Sundays on NBC (8/7c) - and I have a $50 Lowe's gift card to give away to celebrate.

The American Dream Home is something everyone fantasizes about. Whether it’s a new closet, a larger family room, or simply a place to put all your stuff, there’s always something we want to change about where we live!

What if you could make your home into your Dream Home?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Out of the Furnace

Woody Harrelson and Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace

Disclosure: I am a Fox Home Entertainment Insider and was provided with a review copy of Out of the Furnace in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I didn't get to see Out of the Furnace when it was in theaters, because it was not screened for the general public. It's been on my list for a while now, however, because the trailer looked good, and also because of its fantastic cast: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Forrest Whitaker, and Casey Affleck, just to name a few. So I was excited when I received a copy in the mail from FHE to review.

The synopsis of this film from IMDb is: "When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn't follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice."

Catch It All at Best Buy during the Madness! #CatchItAll

#CatchItAll at Best Buy

*Disclosure: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

I've been guilty of multitasking more than a few times. When I'm watching a movie at home, you can find me with my smartphone or iPad Mini nearby, ready to look up an interesting actor or actress at a moment's notice. And with March Madness this month, it's important that I am able to look up a score or a team on-the-go as well.

Best Buy can help keep you connected to the Madness with tons of devices, including laptops, cell phones, tablets, and HDTV. I actually received my current TV from there for free when I purchased a bed at the Gardner White in Novi (one store, but two brands) which was an awesome deal. I've also previously shopped there for laptops and my cell phone, at one point.

Catch It All at Best Buy #CatchItAll
Watching some bball on TV while keeping
up with the scores on my iPad Mini

My mobile preference is my tablet, since it tends to be a little faster than my phone, but sometimes you'll see me on three devices (phone, tablet, and watching TV) all at once. As I type this while doing laundry, I actually have the Gmail app on my phone open, at my side, while the Blogger app on my iPad is up and running - definitely convenient.

I'm usually not a devoted basketball fan, too, but my dad and I like to compete with our brackets during March Madness, and it's been so useful to be able to check the game scores when out and about.

Which devices do you use to stay connected? 
And what team(s) are you rooting for this March Madness season?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel movie review

The Grand Budapest Hotel is directed by Wes Anderson, which means that it's going to be quirky and unlike any film you've seen before. If you've seen The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, or Moonrise Kingdom, you already have had a taste of his style and preference for being unusual. This movie started off promisingly but was soon slow in parts, and although overall I enjoyed it, I found myself getting restless near the end of it.

Pay attention, because this is a story within a story within a story ... and I may be missing "a story" somewhere there too. At the beginning of the movie, a young girl is walking and reading a book entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel. We then meet our narrator (Jude Law) who is staying at the hotel in the '80s, when it's not even half of the palatial residence it used to be. He meets a Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who is the owner of the hotel, but the circumstances upon which he came into possession of the hotel is a very long and intricate story - it goes back to before the days of war, when the hotel was in its prime, and Mr. Moustafa was just a Lobby Boy, under the tutelage of an M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). A host of recognizable faces pop up during this story, as we learn how Mr. Moustafa transitions from one of the lowest-ranked employees of the hotel to the eventual owner - and the sad events that lead to this, as well.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Event Review: Disney On Ice at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit area)

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador and was provided with free Disney On Ice tickets in exchange for promoting the show. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Last night I attended Disney On Ice presents "Let's Celebrate!" at the Palace of Auburn Hills. I am no stranger to Disney On Ice - the previous time I went was last March, but I have been in previous years as well.

Disney On Ice review Yes/No Films
My mom (left) and I at the show

This year's theme was interesting because it wasn't really a theme. It focused on a few of the individual Disney characters/shows at first, and then it moved on to holidays.

Disney On Ice review Yes/No Films
Most picture credits are from a friend of mine, who took great pics with the
zoom on her digital camera!

I was surprised but happy to see the Toy Story crew in this show, since technically they are Disney/Pixar, and I also I had no idea that The Nightmare Before Christmas was a Disney movie! That movie has some great songs in it, a few of which were sang in this show.

Movie Review: Divergent

Divergent movie review

I was very excited for this movie before seeing it because I've read the novel of the same name, albeit a while ago, and it did not disappoint. The film takes place in a futuristic Chicago, but instead of flying cars, it has ruins, due to "the war" that is briefly mentioned, and if you're observant you'll be able to pick out some landmarks like the Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears) and a charred Navy Pier.

Beatrice (Shailene Woodley, who later goes by simply "Tris") lives with her parents and brother in the Abnegation faction, where they are selfless and have no vanity. She and her brother are now of age where they have to take "the test" that tells them what faction they really belong in, and then choose a faction for themselves on their choosing day. After her test, Tori (Maggie Q), the test administrator, hurries Tris out a back door, and says she has marked her as Abnegation - because the test was inconclusive, which is dangerous in their society; it means she is Divergent, someone who belongs in multiple factions, and the government hunts and kills Divergents. When choosing day arrives, Tris shocks everyone and chooses Dauntless instead of Abnegation - the tribe that's been called "crazy" and is tasked with being soldiers and protecting all of the citizens in the society. Even in a faction where she doesn't really seem to fit in, she must hide her Divergertness, or else her life could be in danger.

Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets Most Wanted movie review

After my review of the 2011 Muppets movie, I was accused of being a Muppets hater. It wasn't true; I just thought the movie was only so-so and could have been better. And now, about two and a half years later, I get to prove that I was right, because this newest installment of the Muppets is complete and utter fun - and what I would have liked 2011's to be.

The film starts at the end of the last movie, when the Muppets have wrapped up filming. The gang wonders what they should do now, and finally decide on doing a world tour. Producer Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) - pronounced "Bad-gee," he says, because it's French - signs up to help produce their tour, and everyone seems to like him except for Kermit (voiced by Steve Whitmire). Kermit's intuition soon proves to be correct, as he's mistaken for the infamous Constantine (voiced by Matt Vogel) in an evil plot hatched by Constantine and Dominic, and is thrown in a Russian gulag (jail). Constantine, who is Kermit's doppelganger, manages to convince all the Muppets that he's Kermit, and he and Dominic are free to go about their real plan: stealing the crown jewels of England.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Hide Your Smiling Faces, 3/25 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area), ends 3/23

Hide Your Smiling Faces ticket contest
The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week with Hide Your Smiling Faces, playing Tuesday, March 25th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI).

The best way to experience the Gathr film series (and also the most cost-effective) is to buy a one-month subscription - it's $14.99 for 4 films a month, which works out to a little less than $3 a movie. That's much less than you'd pay regularly, and for a first-run movie, too.

Film synopsis:
Hide Your Smiling Faces vividly depicts the young lives of two brothers as they abruptly come of age through the experience of a friend's mysterious death. The event ripples under the surface of their town, unsettling the brothers and their friends in a way that they can't fully understand. Once familiar interactions begin to take on a macabre tone in light of the tragic accident, leading Eric and Tommy to retreat into their wild surroundings. As the two brothers vocally face the questions they have about mortality, they simultaneously hold their own silent debates within their minds that build into seemingly insurmountable moral peaks. Hide Your Smiling Faces is a true, headlong glimpse into the raw spirit of youth, as well as the calluses that one often develops as a result of an unfiltered past.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GIVEAWAY: 4-pack of tickets for Harlem Globetrotters at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit area), ends 3/26

The Harlem Globetrotters are bringing their brand of fun to the Palace on Saturday, April 19th at 7pm, and you can win a family four-pack of tickets here, as well as take part in some great Globetrotters and also Pistons basketball discounts.

Here are some great discounts to be aware of:
  • For Globetrotters discounts: click here. $21 reserved lower-level seats (normally $27.50), $13.50 general admission upper-level seats (normally $18), or $10 for a Magic Pass ($24 normally), which is a pre-show event from 5-6:30pm where you can spend time on the court with the Globetrotters; all customers must have a regular ticket plus a Magic Pass for entry.

GIVEAWAY: Faith-based, animated IESODO on DVD, ends 3/25 - 2 winners

Iesodo, pronounced "YAY-sa-doe," has been called "The Lion King of Christian toons" and "A DVD that parents will love," and I have a copy of its newest installment for two of my readers to win.

A bit about the series:
IESODO Faith DVDIesodo (YAY-sa-doe) is a highly acclaimed Telly and Accolade Award winning series featuring a cast of animated birds who live in a Cypress Tree on the shores of Galilee. Presented with cutting edge imagery, Iesodo, which means “The way of Jesus”, is a wise and gentle dove that gives an allegory to the stories and messages of Jesus with “solid biblical teaching.” (American Family Journal). With each and every story, he and his lovable feathered friends “present the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a winsome, compelling way” through music and adventure (

Directors for the series include Brian E. Ray whose credits consist of Muppet Babies, My Little Pony Tales and Ed, Ed, and Eddy, as well as Colin Brady, whose credits include Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life. Brady also served as the former animation supervisor for Pixar Animation Studios. Producer Eric S. Rollman, President/CEO of Rollman Entertainment, formerly served as President of Production for Fox Kids and Marvel, and writer/producer Rob Loos is an Emmy Nominee and writer/producer for McGee and Me! Christmas Lamb, Kids 10 Commandments and Touched by an Angel. The Iesodo series also features the voice of Erin Bethea (Fireproof, Amazing Love) as Maggie.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Event Review: Supercross at Ford Field, Detroit

Supercross at Ford Field Detroit

*Disclosure: I received free tickets to facilitate this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

This past Saturday, March 15th, I attended the Monster Energy AMA Supercross event held at Ford Field. It was my first time at the venue (I've never seen a Lions game - shocking but true) and I was looking forward to the event.

For those of you who haven't heard of Supercross, the event has been described as the following:
Monster Energy Supercross is the world’s premier indoor motocross series, comprised of seventeen rounds of heart-stopping action in some of the largest venues in North America. Every week, the best riders from across the globe, like two-time champion James Stewart, three-time champion Chad Reed, and defending champion Ryan Dungey, seek to outrace each other on motocross’ most challenging courses. Featuring tight corners, fast straightaways, challenging rhythm sections, and vertigo-inducing jumps, these tracks pack excitement into every inch of dirt.

Panoramic shot of the interior of Ford Field
At the beginning, before the races, there were fireworks and each motocross racer was introduced and took a lap around the track.

Ford Field Supercross Detroit

The first few races were really fun, but I will admit that I got a bit restless after a while. I think that if you have a favorite racer or a person to root for, however, the races could be interesting to watch.

Ford Field Supercross Detroit

Overall, though, I had a fun time, and I'm hoping to go back to Ford Field for a Lions game at some point or maybe Monster Jam (also by Feld Entertainment) next year.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Movie Review: Need for Speed

Need for Speed movie review

I thought that Need for Speed was going to a poor man's Fast and the Furious, but it actually ended up surpassing that franchise in terms of enjoyment level, which really surprised me. The story is a bit cheesy/heavy-handed at times, but if you're in the theater for the story itself, you're at the wrong movie. There were also a few Detroit-filmed scenes which I didn't know about beforehand, and it was fun to see a city I live near on the big screen.

Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) and his friend Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) love illegal racing, but when they decide to race an enemy of theirs, Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), one day, and only one of them gets out alive; Tobey is framed for manslaughter and is sent to prison for two years. When he gets out, Tobey needs to get to California within 48 hours in order to enter the De Leon (an exclusive race), and he also needs to get an invite from the Monarch (Michael Keaton), the man who puts together the race; to do this, he shows off on the way there, while in Detroit, and him and his team email the Monarch the footage. He's also looking to avenge Pete and pit himself against his enemy, Dino, yet again; however, him and his cross-country partner, Julia (Imogen Poots), run into a few complications along the way.

I saw this movie in 3D and was sort of thinking, "why is 3D necessary for this film?" - however, it was fantastic in 3D. The movie is based on the video game series of the same name, and the director really tries to put the audience in the driver's seat. There's definitely a few "extreme" scenes too that are done very well; in one scene, a car is dangling over a canyon/river, and we see the view of the river from a passenger's point-of-view.

Yes, see this movie, and see it in 3D. The acting is fine, for the most part, and Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots have good chemistry together. Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi) plays one of Paul's friends, too, and Dakota Johnson (soon to be of Fifty Shades fame) plays Anita, Pete's sister who later marries Dino before she knows what a jerk he is. Michael Keaton is also great as the eccentric Monarch, who does a podcast/radio-type show that all the car fanatics follow, as well as playing host of the De Leon. I was impressed by how awesome the car scenes were in this film, and they were all real, as well - no fake stunts for this film.

Need for Speed is in theaters today, March 14th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 130 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

TICKET GIVEAWAY: The Raid 2, 3/18 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 2 winners

The Raid 2 movie ticket contest
The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week with The Raid 2, playing Tuesday, March 18th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI).

The best way to experience the Gathr film series (and also the most cost-effective) is to buy a one-month subscription - it's $14.99 for 4 films a month, which works out to a little less than $3 a movie. That's much less than you'd pay regularly, and for a first-run movie, too.

Film synopsis:
He thought it was over. After fighting his way out of a building filled with gangsters and madmen - a fight that left the bodies of police and gangsters alike piled in the halls - rookie Jakarta cop Rama thought it was done and he could resume a normal life. He couldn't have been more wrong. Formidable though they may have been, Rama's opponents in that fateful building were nothing more than small fish swimming in a pond much larger than he ever dreamed possible. And his triumph over the small fry has attracted the attention of the predators farther up the food chain. His family at risk, Rama has only one choice to protect his infant son and wife: He must go undercover to enter the criminal underworld himself and climb through the hierarchy of competing forces until it leads him to the corrupt politicians and police pulling the strings at the top of the heap. And so Rama begins a new odyssey of violence, a journey that will force him to set aside his own life and history and take on a new identity as the violent offender "Yuda." In prison he must gain the confidence of Uco - the son of a prominent gang kingpin - to join the gang himself, laying his own life on the line in a desperate all-or-nothing gambit to bring the whole rotten enterprise to an end.



Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, March 16th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of March 17th. 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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 10, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Veronica Mars movie DVD + Neptune, CA trucker hat, ends 3/19

Veronica Mars DVD prize pack

Where are my Veronica Mars fans at?

The Veronica Mars movie hits theaters on March 14th, and I have a way for you win the DVD once it's released this May.

Official movie synopsis:
On the eve of graduating law school, Veronica Mars has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her. While interviewing at high-end New York law firms, Veronica Mars gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don't seem right with how Logan's case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.

See it In Theaters MARCH 14
Pre-order on DIGITAL HD
Twitter: @veronicamars

And the way the film got made is rather neat:

Following a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that ended on April 12, 2013, Veronica Mars was shot over 23 days during June-July 2013.


Enter to win via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest ends Wednesday, March 19th at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed on March 20th and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen. Prize will not be shipped until the DVD release in May.

Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Veronica Mars Prize Pack 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. U.S. and Canada residents only, please.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 8, 2014

TV Review: Private Lives of Nashville Wives + Interview with Jenny Terrell

Private Lives of Nashville Wives review

At the ENMN conference in Anaheim last month, we were treated to the first two episodes of a new reality show on TNT, Private Lives of Nashville Wives. I ended up liking the show a lot more than I thought I would, and it's especially interesting to me because the ENMN conference is going to be held in Nashville next year; I also might be going in May for the Yelp Elite spring break event.

There are six main ladies in the show, as well as Nashville socialite Tina Brady, who pops by now and then but isn't a regular cast member. The six ladies are:

  • Jenny Terrell is vice president at a leading Internet company. She is married to JT Terrell, one of Nashville's top event and party producers. Jenny seems to have it all, including a family and a highly lucrative career. But with her tough-as-nails, straight-shooting, liberal personality and beliefs, this Midwest girl from Pickerington, Ohio, is establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with in Nashville society.
  • Erika Page White is a former soap opera star looking to make a comeback after a nine-year hiatus. Married to platinum country music recording artist Bryan White, Erika thinks it's time to focus on her own career again, but only time and effort will tell whether a comeback is really in the cards.
  • Sarah Davidson is married to BMI Award-winning songwriter Dallas Davidson, who has 16 number one hits. Others would be content to be a stay-at-home wife living the good life, but Sarah wants more than anything to establish her own singing and song writing career. She is striving to reach a level of success that equals her passion.
  • Ana Fernandez and Betty Malo are identical twin sisters. Ana, a single mother of two, would love to find her perfect man, but her highly extroverted personality sometimes works against her. Ana calls it like she sees it and her forthcoming nature keeps the group dynamic raw and real. Betty is a minute younger than her twin sister Ana, and is married to Mavericks lead singer and songwriter Raul Malo. She hopes to be a calming influence on Ana, with whom she has a sometimes explosive, yet loving relationship.
  • Cassie Chapman is married to five-time Grammy-nominated and seven-time Dove Award-winning Christian music artist Gary Chapman, and together the couple is exploring starting their own family. Cassie's sweetness masks a toughness that comes out when others question their 23-year age difference. The Chapmans are attempting to prove that for all of the town's songs of heartbreak and woe, their love is enduring.

I don't really regularly watch any reality TV anymore, but I think Private Lives might be my new fix. I used to watch America's Next Top Model, and before that, Survivor, but eventually stopped watching them. What I like about Private Lives, though, is that these women are real and all have their own goals, despite being married to superstar husbands. 

I got the chance to interview Jenny Terrell via email about this show recently. Jenny is the only one of the wives that works full-time at an "office"-type job (though she sometimes works from home), and she's one of the vice presidents at Living Social, a website I often use to find deals and bargains. She balances this with raising her son and being married to JT, an event and party producer. 

Jenny Terrell, Nashville Wives
photo credit: TNT

YNF: Nashville Wives is an "unscripted series." Are there any parts of it that are scripted or it 100% improvised/"real"?

JT: This was one of the things I was very concerned about when I first got involved with this production. But luckily my worst fears were never realized. The producers actually did not once script out anything for us to follow.

Since it is impossible for them to follow us 24 hours a day seven days a week for four months straight, they did have to narrow filming by asking us in advance what interesting things we had going on in our schedules, what events were coming up, what specific challenges we were facing in our personal lives, and would be willing to reserve those conversations and activities for the times when the cameras were actually rolling. So in some ways it was scheduled but never scripted.

You're a VP at Living Social and also a busy mom and wife. What made you want to be on this show, and how do you balance it with your life?

The main thing that prompted me to join the show was this: my husband has a 15-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, and when we got together a few years ago, it struck me as strange that she and her friends were so intrigued by my career and by what they perceived to be my success in life. They often asked “How did you get this house, and what did you major in in college, and what is your advice on being successful?" I came to realize that so much of what they are exposed to is reality TV, and a lot of these shows are based upon measuring your success as a woman by how well you do at finding a rich husband. So when the opportunity knocked, to say “Oh no, I would never do that” felt a little like I was part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Here was my chance to present a different type of successful woman, through a vehicle that is wildly popular ... reality shows about “wives."  I felt like I needed to take advantage of it. Girl power!

How did I juggle it? -
Thanks to the terrific production company and TNT’s network, I was able to keep my filming to specific after-work hours and on the weekends to ensure there was no interference. That’s why you won't see Jenny “working” very often on the show (that part wasn’t reality, haha!). It certainly was a busy summer that required many iced coffees! When I was at home, my family was with me most of the time. You'll see I wasn't able to attend many of the events the other ladies participated in, due to my crazy schedule, but we made it work. I'm just the type of person that doesn't stop to think about it - I just keep chugging ahead - or I would probably crack!

Has it become "every day" now or is it still strange to have cameras following you around? Are there any aspects of your life that the cameras aren't allowed to be a part of?

It really has become my new reality to have cameras following me around. I think that's how they get you lulled into a comfort zone so they can capture all the good stuff :) The only area of my life I don't allow them to follow is me working in my office in DC. It certainly wouldn't be fair to subject my colleagues and team members to such a public situation, not to mention it would have been terribly disruptive to our productivity.

Did you know any of the other Nashville Wives before the show?

No. I didn't know any of the other women.

What have been the best and also the hardest parts of being on the show so far?

Best part - honestly the friends I've made. Contrary to how it looks on screen in many of the scenes, the genuine friendships that have come out of this are surprising - they're intricate and tricky at times, but I love and appreciate all of these women at the end of all this.

Worst part - watching it back. Definitely.

Any teasers you can give us about this season?

The drama that you see in the beginning of the season is very real, and it took a twist at the end of the season. I'm surprised myself, about how everything has turned out in our lives just 6 months later!

Thanks to Jenny Terrell for taking time out of her busy schedule, and for TNT for putting me in touch with her.

Private Lives of Nashville Wives can be found on Monday nights at 11pm EST/10pm CST on TNT.

*Disclosure: I received a DVD of the first four episodes of this show in order to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Movie Review: Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Mr. Peabody & Sherman 2014 movie review

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is based on a pair of characters from the 1950s/60s TV shows Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show; however, in those shows, they were recurring characters, and now they have their own movie. I was surprised by how many jokes in the film were more for adults, since the movie focuses on historical periods, but kids will like this film as well, especially the 3D, which was fantastic.

Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) is a dog, but has accomplished many academic and important things in his lifetime. When Sherman (Max Charles) was a baby, Mr. Peabody found him in a box in an alley, and petitioned the court to let a dog adopt a boy; since then, Mr. Peabody has been raising Sherman. Mr. Peabody invented a machine called the "WABAC" (pronounced "way back") and they use it to travel across time, although they can only travel to time periods in which they didn't yet exist. When Sherman has trouble with a girl at school, Penny (Ariel Winter), Mr. Peabody invites her and her parents to their house to make amends, and Sherman isn't supposed to tell Penny about the WABAC machine, but of course does ... and then chaos ensues.

The voice cast was spot on in this film, and it was fun to try to figure out who was voicing what character. I did recognize Allison Janney as Ms. Grunion, a "child services" type person who wants to take Sherman away from Mr. Peabody, and Dennis Haysbert as "The Judge" in one court scene, but I didn't recognize Ty Burrell as Mr. Peabody throughout. Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann also voice the Petersons, Penny's parents, whom I didn't recognize either.

Yes, see this movie, and see it in 3D, as the 3D effects were awesome. This movie almost doesn't really seem geared to kids, because they aren't going to know about Marie Antoinette, Egypt and the pyramids, and all of the other historical time periods that Peabody and Sherman travel to - I found myself laughing a lot at the "let them eat cake" Marie Antoinette jokes, and later we see her on the back end of a Tastee Cakes truck, which was also funny. Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a good film for the whole family, since it has some "adult humor" as well as good/colorful graphics for the kids, and I'd recommend it for anyone to see.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is in theaters today, March 7th, and is rated PG with a runtime of 92 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

Movie Review - 300: Rise of an Empire

300: Rise of an Empire movie review

The original 300 hit theaters in 2006 and featured a starstudded cast, including Gerard Butler as King Leonidas. I don't think I saw it in theaters (I was a college student without a car on campus at the time) but I remember seeing it on DVD. In 300: Rise of an Empire, Greece is at war against Persia, which is led by the fearless Artemisia (Eva Green), an evil, woman who wants nothing more than to crush Greece - ironic, actually, since she was born there.

Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) now leads the Greek forces ever since Leonidas's death. He pleads with Leonidas's widow, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), to lend him her Spartan forces, but she refuses, so it's the good men of Athens versus the Persians. Artemisia brings Themistokles over to her boat for a little tete-a-tete, but the two end up hating each other more than ever ... and the war continues on, until a clear winner is established.

The screening I went to of this film was in 3D, and although some parts were neat to see in 3D, overall there was way too much blood and gore flying everywhere. The first 300 was the same, I believe, but this version seemed even bloodier, if possible; it was almost like watching The Walking Dead in some scenes, except these were live humans and not zombies.

Maybe see this movie. I will say that the film was interesting, but no backstory was given - it's a bit of a continuation from 300, so maybe that's why - and I would have liked to have been given more information. My favorite character was actually Artemisia just because she was such a jerk (and also because she had awesome outfits), and she and Themistokles had good chemistry together, especially in one certain memorable scene; Artemisia's tragic childhood story is given, and we learn why she's from Greece but hates it so much. I'd recommend this film to anyone looking for an action-packed "popcorn" flick, but don't expect anything more from it - if you're looking for a movie more rich in history, try the original 300 first.

300: Rise of an Empire is in theaters today, March 7th, and is rated R with a runtime of 102 minutes. 3 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crosspost: win The Book Thief on Blu-ray/DVD + a copy of the novel, ends 3/14

I reviewed The Book Thief back in November 2013 here on my blog, and now I have a copy for one of my lucky readers to win, as well as a copy of the novel. The Book Thief comes to Blu-ray/DVD on March 11th.

Head on over to my book blog to enter the contest! Contest ends March 14th.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Le Week-End, 3/11 at the Maple Theater (Detroit area) - 2 winners

Le Week-end movie ticket giveaway, Detroit
The Gathr film series giveaways continue this week with Le Week-End, playing Tuesday, March 11th, at 7:30pm at the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills, MI).

The best way to experience the Gathr film series (and also the most cost-effective) is to buy a one-month subscription - it's $14.99 for 4 films a month, which works out to a little less than $3 a movie. That's much less than you'd pay regularly, and for a first-run movie, too.

Film synopsis:
Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent (IRIS, TOPSY-TURVY, ANOTHER YEAR) and Lindsay Duncan (the forthcoming ABOUT TIME, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, MANSFIELD PARK) give exquisite performances as Nick and Meg, a long-married British couple revisiting Paris for the first time since their honeymoon in an attempt to rekindle their relationship. During a two-day escapade, diffident, wistful Nick and demanding, take-charge Meg careen from harmony to disharmony to resignation and back again as they take stock of half a lifetime of deep tenderness -- and even deeper regret. A surprise invitation from Nick's old friend Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), an amusingly boorish American academic with a fancy Parisian address, soon leads them to an unexpectedly hopeful vision of what their love and marriage might still become.This magically buoyant, bittersweet romantic comedy, starring two of Britain's national treasures, is a new peak in the ongoing collaboration between screenwriter Hanif Kureishi and director Roger Michell, following VENUS, THE MOTHER and THE BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA.


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The ticket giveaway will end this Sunday, March 9th at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the morning of March 10th. 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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Denny's introduces Build Your Own Skillet menu, new Fit Fare dishes

yes/no films
*Disclosure: I was provided with a Denny's gift card to facilitate this blog post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

I've recently become a converted Denny's fan, after I received a gift card in my BlogHer 2013 swag bag. I've been to the Novi, MI location a few times since then, including in September when I did a review, and I was in the Novi area yesterday for a movie screening so it was the perfect time to go back.

My mom had emailed me earlier in the week with a subject line something like "BLUEBERRY PUPPIES!" and I soon saw what she was so enthusiastic about - Denny's has always had pancake (hush) puppies that you can order, but they now have blueberry pancake puppies, so we got a side order of those, and they were delicious.

Before I go more in-depth as to what we ate, though, here's some things you should know:

  • Denny's is offering more and more "Fit Fare" options, such as the Fit Fare Breakfast Plate: two strips of turkey bacon, pepperjack cheese, fresh spinach, tomato, and an egg cooked to order on a toasted English muffin, with yogurt and seasonal fruit. 
  • The restaurant's newest initiative is the Build Your Own Skillet, where you can make a skillet by choosing from more than 30 ingredients. You can also choose a custom design, such as the Fit Fare Baja Skillet (redskin potatoes, steamed veggies, fresh avocado, and egg whites).
  • Denny's Build Your Own Grand Slam is getting and upgrade, too: there's over 300 ways to build a breakfast under 550 calories.

And now, the food!

yes/no films
L to R: Grilled chicken sandwich w/ french fries,
Build Your Own Skillet, Blueberry Pancake Puppies,
Grilled chicken sandwich w/ hash browns

I ordered a "build your own" burger with grilled chicken - you can choose from grilled chicken, hamburger, turkey burger, or veggie burger - as well as bourbon sauce, and hash browns. My mom ordered a grilled chicken sandwich as well, with fries, and my dad tried out the Build Your Own Skillet - I'm not a huge eggs fan so I asked him to give the new dish a whirl.

My mom with her grilled chicken sandwich, and my dad with his
Build Your Own Skillet

The Build Your Own Skillet menu has a huge variety of combinations; my dad got ham, eggs, hash browns, and a few other ingredients. Denny's menu details all of the different combinations, as you can see here:

The food was really good, and the waitservice was great too - I think we had the same waiter as the last time we visited that Denny's location, and I'm always amazed that he was able to memorize our order without writing anything down.

My dad's Build Your Own Skillet

I'd recommend Denny's because it has something for everyone, even vegetarians (any breakfast main dish, for the most part, or they also have veggie burgers), and Denny's is making a conscious effort to offer more low fat ("Fit Fare") dishes to its clientele nowadays too.