Tag Archives: movie review

2012 Movies: Likes and Dislikes

Love those superheroes!

Love those superheroes (“Marvel’s The Avengers”)!

Most people we know will see a movie every few months or wait for the DVD to come out via Netflix.

But the Mister and I aren’t “most people.” We love seeing films on the big screen, usually AMC’s as we exercise its Stubs card. In 2012, we parked our carcasses in the plush seats 50 times. That’s a lot of indentions!

So does that make us experts when it comes to picking which movie will win the Oscar for best picture? Absolutely not (but I’ll bet “Lincoln” takes home the gold statuette). But that still won’t stop me from listing my selections for the year’s best and worst flicks that we did see (we tend to avoid the scary, ultra-violent, and just plain dumb movies, especially if they star Adam Sandler or Seth Rogen). I know what I like and dislike.

Drumroll, please!

John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Ben Affleck in “Argo”

John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Ben Affleck starred in “Argo.”

The Best 2012 Movies

1. “Argo.” With a plethora (my 25-cent word of the day) of wonderful movies, it’s really hard to pick a favorite. But what I really liked about “Argo” was how surprised we were at how well the story was told. Yes, even with Ben Affleck as the lead actor. If you didn’t see it in the theater, be sure to rent it.

2. “Lincoln.” Although it’s too long and tends to drone a bit, “Lincoln” is a great history lesson. Daniel Day-Lewis, who likely will win the Oscar as best actor, makes you believe that he really is Abraham Lincoln.

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne

3. “Les Misérables.” Amazing singing, especially by Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks, as well as a compelling plot makes this a must-see for those who love musicals. Unfortunately for the Mister, who I dragged to this, it amounted to a $6 nap.

4. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It’s nice to have a movie that works well for younger and older audiences. The acting was great, as was the story.

5. “Flight.” Denzel Washington. Enough said!

Honorable Mentions: “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Looper.” I’m a sucker for superhero movies, possibly because the Flash is my animated husband. “The Avengers” was fun to see with my guys, especially on Mother’s Day. As for “Looper,” I loved the acting by Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as the plot.

“The Expendables 2”: Truly a dud

“The Expendables 2”: Truly a dud

The Worst 2012 Movies

1. “The Expendables 2.” This was possibly the worst flick I’ve ever seen! Bad, cheesy acting, ridiculous violence, and the dumbest storyline ever. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

2. “The Expendables 2.” Yep, it was that bad!!

3. “This Means War.” What was Reese Witherspoon thinking when she signed on for this creepy flop?

4. “Fun Size.” It just falls flat. All the good scenes were in the trailer.

5. “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.” Good cast, but the bad language ruins it.

What do you think of this list? Got your own faves and flops? Comment away!

“Timothy Green”: Fun Family Fare

Green socks for a “green” boy.

Here’s what you need to know about “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”: It’s a cute, PG movie that probably will make you cry.

Jim and Cindy Green yearn for a child.

The story takes place in Stanleyville, which is the pencil capital of the world. Jim (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) have reached the end of the line in their attempts to conceive a child. So they write down their hopes and dreams for a fantasy child, place the papers in a wooden box, and bury it in the garden. It rains that night . . . only in their yard.

Lo and behold, a muddy, 10-year-old boy (CJ Adams) appears in their house. His name is Timothy, and he has green leaves growing near his ankles. He’s everything his “parents” (he calls them Mom and Dad) wrote on the papers . . . but not always in the way you might think. Those were pleasantly unexpected twists.

Timothy and Joni like hanging out together.

Timothy manages to change the lives of everyone around him. He’s quite taken with Joni (Odeya Rush); their scenes together are some of the best in the movie.

This isn’t one of Disney’s finest films, but it’s definitely enjoyable, whether you see it in the theater or via DVD. I’d give it two and a half stars out of five.

“Hope Springs”: Yes, It Does!

Arnold and Kay show their dysfunction by how they sit on a couch.

This has been a banner year for movies that are targeted for the oldies but goodies set (which includes the Mister and I). First, there was “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in May.

The newest flick aimed at us aging baby boomers is “Hope Springs,” which the Mister and I saw last Saturday morning. At an early matinee where we (just above and below age 60) were among the youngest in the audience. This definitely was the canes and walkers group. In fact, it seemed like we were at a nursing home’s movie of the week.

“Hope Springs” is billed as a comedy. While there were many funny lines and lots of laughter from the white-haired crowd, this really is more of a dramedy.

Kay (the incomparable Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones, who can play curmudgeons in his sleep) have been married 31 years and are stuck in a rut with a dysfunctional, noncommunicating marriage. Kay timidly tries to relight the spark, but Arnold has blocked all his emotions. So Kay pays for them to go to a week-long intensive couples counseling in Maine.

Steve Carell is out of the “Office.”

Steve Carell ably plays Dr. Bernie Feld, the counselor who tries to help Kay and Arnold remember why they fell in love in the first place and push them out of their rut. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of awkwardness and cringeworthy moments with the couple trying to complete their intimacy lessons. Even though all of it is tastefully done, this PG-13 flick is not for younger teens.

In fact, “Hope Springs” might not appeal to anyone who hasn’t hit age 45 or so. But it really is great to have movies that explore themes interesting to those of us who are older and have been married a long time . . . without any swearing.

Hope springs that we’ll see more of these and less of the awful Seth Rogen f-bomb-fests and Adam Sandler idiot-of-the-year excuses for films.

The End of the Batman Trilogy Thrills

The cowl doubles as a helmet.

In a nutshell (which is where the masked villain Bane should be kept), here’s my brief review of “The Dark Knight Rises”: Wow! Death and destruction flow. Bruce Wayne reflects. Catwoman rocks!

Oh, and the movie is waaaaay too long at 2 hours 45 minutes. The weak-bladdered set wish director Christopher Nolan had done some judicious editing of this interesting story.

Eight years after Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s death (and, yes, I had totally forgotten the storyline from the second movie), Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) turns into a reclusive eccentric never to don the costume again. The End.

Is Catwoman good or evil?

Not really. Because, of course, there has to be a bad guy or two wanting revenge against the Caped Crusader. Plus it’s time for Anne Hathaway to take a turn as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.

Although the violence was excessive and, at times, stomach-wrenching, I thought the acting was great. Bale is the best Batman (yes, even better than my second husband, George Clooney); Michael Caine (Alfred) is . . . well, Michael Caine (he made me cry); Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) almost makes me forget he’s really Sirius Black; and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) is . . . well, Morgan Freeman.

If a mask covers your mouth, then closed-captioning should be required.

As much as I loved the regulars, though, I especially appreciated the talents of the third movie’s newcomers: Hathaway established herself as the best Catwoman; Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a believable cop; Marion Cotillard surprised me as Miranda Tate; and Tom Hardy showed both toughness and pain as the masked Bane (who sounded a bit like Darth Vadar).

This is one of those movies that’s best appreciated at the theater. If you’re a fan of this genre, it’s definitely a must-see.

Farewell, Batman. And thanks.

“Ice Age 4”: Series Starts Thawing

Scrat takes on that pesky acorn once again.

Here are the three things you need to know about “Ice Age: Continental Drift” (aka Ice Age 4):

1) Scrat the saber-toothed squirrel continues on as a funny subplot.

2) “The Longest Daycare,” an animated short starring Maggie Simpson, is just about worth the price of admission . . . especially for those of us who love butterflies.

3) The Ice Age franchise still has legs, but they seem to be wobbling now.

Sid, Manny, and Diego remain BFFs.

Although our family enjoyed it, Ice Age 4 is mostly funny for the younger kids. But everyone can benefit from its positive messages of families are more than just your relatives and stay true to yourself. The big three—Manny the wooly mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the sabre-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo)—remain such great friends in such a heartwarming way.

We left the theater wondering if there will be a fifth installment. As I always tell the boys, if a movie is making money, look for sequels. Ice Age 4 banked $46 million its opening weekend.

Wonder if Scrat will finally end up with the ornery acorn in Ice Age 5!

“People Like Us”: Yes, We Do!

I always like Michelle Pfeiffer!

Grammarian that I am, I wondered if “like” was being used as a verb in the title of the movie we saw yesterday, “People Like Us.” Alas, it wasn’t. But, as it turned out, it was (at least for the Mister and I).

Hannah (Olivia Wilde) and Sam (Chris Pine)

This drama is about how a constantly lying yet ambitious young man (Sam played by Chris Pine) comes to terms with his estranged father and his previously-unknown half-sister. When his dad dies, Sam is left $150,000 to give to Josh Davis . . . who turns out to be Sam’s nephew, son of that half-sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks).

Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) needs help.

Sam would rather keep the money, being heavily in debt, but his curiosity gets the better of him. Which is a good thing, because everyone involved in this convoluted family needs each other.

The best thing that this flick has going for it (well, besides the fact that Pine is incredibly handsome) . . . wait a minute, what was I saying?

Oh, yeah . . . sorry (made me remember Chris Pine)! The best thing is the acting. All of the main roles—Michelle Pfeiffer as Sam’s mom, Banks, Pine, and Olivia Wilde as Sam’s girlfriend—are so well-played. Even young Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario who badly needs a haircut) was believable. The ending truly makes the movie.

I don’t consider “People Like Us” a must-see; it’s definitely Netflixable. But don’t be surprised if you do like it if you choose to watch it.

“Rock of Ages” Rocks Out

Everyone sang well.

Don’t see “Rock of Ages” for the hackneyed plot lines of small-town girl moves to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune, boy meets girl hoping for a love story, and a boozing rocker who seems off his rocker comes to his senses.

See it for the foot-tapping, pulsating 1980s music and choreography. It’s a good, silly musical that all four of us enjoyed on Father’s Day. If you’re like me, you’ll leave the theater singing “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” (while embarrassing the youngsters, who won’t be walking anywhere near you).

Sherrie and Drew fall in love.

There’s a lot going on in the film. First up is Sherrie (Julianne Hough), who moves to L.A. from Tulsa to become a singer. She meets Drew (Diego Boneta), a songwriter who works at a nightclub while hoping for his band to get noticed. Cue the music: There are love songs on the horizon!

Dennis and Lonny make a great team.

Then there’s the Bourbon Room where Drew works. It’s in financial trouble, as owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin . . . I didn’t know Mr. Conductor could sing) and his right-hand man Lonny (Russell Brand) try to keep it afloat. Baldwin and Brand were wonderful together (when you could understand Brand).

Patricia leads a show-stopper in a church.

Meanwhile, the mayor’s wife leads a group of adults wanting to silence that evil rock ’n roll. Catherine Zeta-Jones is superb as Patricia Whitmore—she and her fellow protestors did a great job with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”

The one, the only Stacee Jaxx!

Finally, there’s rock star Stacee Jaxx, the role that might one day define Tom Cruise. Jaxx is an odd duck swimming in bizarre waters. Cruise isn’t the most-powerful singer, but he gets the job done and is very believable in the role.

Also lending their considerable talents to the movie are Mary J. Blige (a lovely singer) and Paul Giamatti as Jaxx’s slime-ball agent.

Because I believe the best music ever produced was from 1964 (especially the British invasion) through 1975 (my sons’ opinions to the contrary), I wondered how much I’d enjoy the film. I only knew a handful of the songs. But I ended up liking most of the tunes (had to laugh at how “Can’t Fight This Feeling” was used). I’ll bet this was a fun flick to film.

Plus I love musicals. They may be campy. They may be too long. But I just can’t stop believin’!

Note: Even though this is rated PG-13, it’s definitely not for the younger teenagers.

“Prometheus”: Meh

Ready to meet your maker?

Confession time: I’ve never seen any of the “Alien” movies. Gory, scary science-fiction movies aren’t my cup of Diet Coke. So, naturally, my #1 son just assumed that only he and the Mister (little bubba was asleep) would be watching “Prometheus.” Seeing me climb into the Honda Odyssey on the way to the theater was his first surprise.

The second? That good, old, cheap mom opted for the mucho dinero IMAX  3D version of a potentially gory, scary sci-fi flick. Even though I do so love that $5 or $6 early matinee, I decided to blow the monthly movie budget on the IMAX solely because our friend Eric touted it so highly.

As usual, our disc golf buddy was right. It’s the perfect way to view big special-effects movies like “Prometheus.” Even if they wind up being sillier than scary (well, at least to me).

Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) is a true believer . . . in God and aliens.

“Prometheus,” directed by Ridley Scott, is purported to be a prequel to “Alien.” Which is weird, because the ending definitely sets up a sequel . . . which is not “Alien,” it seems.

Here’s the iMDb storyline: A team of explorers discovers a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. Woooooo!

Terrifying? Didn’t seem like it to me.

David’s got the whole world in his hand.

Helping these humans is none other than a robot named David (Michael Fassbender). What happens to him near the end really had me giggling.

In these kinds of films, it’s always fun to figure out who will live and who will die. Scientists, explorers, whatever . . . someone’s got to kick the old astral bucket. The death count did surprise me. But other things had me rolling my eyes, especially the do-it-yourself c-section (I’m a veteran of two of them, fortunately, though, both performed by my obstetrician). Pretty bizarre stuff.

The IMAX 3D totally saved “Prometheus” for me. See it in the theater if this is your kind of genre. Otherwise, it’s Netflixable.

Movie Triple-Header

There are lots of British stars in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

The Mister and I put the old AMC Stubs card through its paces last weekend, as we enjoyed three movies together. Our sons joined us for one of the films . . . let’s see if you can figure out which one (it won’t be hard).

First up was “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” featuring a bunch of wonderful British and Indian actors. Even though there is a love story between two attractive youngsters, Dev Patel (the hotel’s part-owner and manager) and Tena Desae, the flick definitely is skewed towards the older generation. The main cast of Brits are all in their 60s and 70s. There probably wasn’t anyone younger than age 45 in the theater (especially at an early matinee)!

All of these aging Brits are facing retirement, some with little money. All are drawn to (Jaipur) India’s Marigold Hotel, which is misrepresented as almost palatial in its brochure when it’s as rundown as they all are.

Maggie Smith sheds her Professor McGonagall persona.

I especially loved Judi Dench (as always) and Maggie Smith in this movie, which was delightful. You’ll exit the theater smiling.

“Men in Black 3”

1969 and present Agent Ks sandwich Agent J.

Yep, this is the one our sons were anxious to see . . . us, too. We’ve enjoyed the MIB series so far, and we weren’t disappointed by this most-recent effort.

Agent J (Will Smith) travels back in time to 1969 to try to stop Boris the Animal (Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement) from killing his partner, Agent K (a very aged and tired Tommy Lee Jones). J deals with the younger K, amazingly played by Josh Brolin, who nails the future K’s mannerisms.

My only gripe (and it’s a big one) with “MIB 3” is that a subplot involves the hated, hated New York Mets, who overcame my beloved Chicago Cubs’ huge lead, not only winning their division but also the World Series in 1969. No Cub fan needs to be reminded of those dark days.

Otherwise, this is a must-see for MIB fans.

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting”

A bevvy of pretty actresses are expecting babies.

All women who are or have been pregnant know one basic truth: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is THE must-read maternity bible. Still, it’s hard to believe that a movie was made based on Heidi Murkoff’s manual.

The just-okay flick follows five couples as they navigate the murky waters of having or adopting a baby. The best character was breastfeeding advocate Wendy, superbly played by Elizabeth Banks, who discovers that it’s tough to feel that elusive pregnancy “glow” when you’re so big that you’re zoned as a condo, and nothing feels normal. I could so relate to her experience . . . times two!

The dudes group, led by Chris Rock, was a nice touch, as the dads bonded with each other and their kids. But overall “What to Expect” is one for the Netflix queue.

Mother’s Day Movie Treat: “Marvel’s The Avengers”

Saving the world by making a huge mess of NYC: The Avengers

Fair warning: If you’re an asthmatic like me, be sure to take a couple hits of your daily inhaler before you see “Marvel’s The Avengers.” Might want to pack the rescue inhaler, too. You’ll need all the breathing help you can muster for this excellent, action-packed movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

As usual, when it’s Mother’s Day, as it was yesterday, I take one for my testosterone team and pick the flick that my guys will enjoy (as in “Star Trek” in 2009, “Iron Man 2” in 2010, and “Thor” last year). So it was a no-brainer for me to opt for the new Avengers movie . . . especially since I really want to see it (probably because I’ve got a thing for Captain America).

Loki and Thor are brothers who don’t see eye to eye.

Long story short: We all loved it! Yes, there was an insane amount of destruction in New York City (clean up on aisles two, seven, 12 . . . oh, heck, all of them!), and too much bickering among the super heroes. But it was cool beans when they all worked together to defeat bad guy Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who was trying to rule Earth . . . with the help of some blasted (literally!) aliens. We especially liked the funny moments.

It was neat seeing the characters come together after having watched their individual movies (not that all of them had their own films, though). The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) added needed girl power, and Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) kept them all focused as a team. Kudos to Joss Whedon for co-writing and directing such a compelling flick.

Love Captain America’s updated suit.

After the movie (as always, be sure to stay through the credits), the four of us revealed who our favorite Avengers were. The Mister and our older son both picked Chris Hemsworth’s Thor (methinks the balding Mister is a tad jealous of those flowing, golden locks), while our younger son opted for Tony Stark/Iron Man (arrogantly well-played by Robert Downey Jr.). As for me, Captain America (Chris Evans) stole my heart—who doesn’t love a good-looking, patriotic guy?

I’m already looking forward to next Mother’s Day. Wonder if “Iron Man 3” will be in the theaters then?