Tag Archives: movie

You Should Be Dancing

One of Jake’s favorite machines

One of Jake’s favorite game machines

For a day that started out with some pain for Jake, last Friday ended up being memorable.

Our older son drove in from UTSA Thursday night, because he had his final appointment with the dentist who has worked on his expensive implant for several months. Soon Jake will have a permanent crown in the space where his pulled tooth is missing (its root had fractured) and won’t look like a goober anymore (well, when he isn’t wearing his temporary flipper).

I’ll kind of miss that gap-toothed smile, which always made me laugh, but I’m sure that he won’t.

Jake was planning to stay overnight at Chase’s Houston apartment, because they, along with Josh, were going to drive to College Station the next day to play Dungeons & Dragons with friends. I wanted us to see “The Lego Movie” (all four of us loved it!), so we picked up Chase and drove to the nearby Edwards Theater.

Picking out a song

Picking out a song

The boys were glad we were early, because there’s a Dance Dance Revolution machine at the theater. Both of them enjoy getting their exercise and showing off their moves with this particular money-waster.

Follow the arrows!

Follow the lighted arrows!

I thoroughly enjoyed watching these two besties having fun together. The action was fast and furious, but both seemed up to the task.

Jake plans to move into Chase’s apartment after they both graduate in May.

Catching their breath

Catching their breath

I have a feeling this DDR machine will see a lot of their respective sneakers and sandals in the future!


This made me laugh out loud!

This made me laugh out loud!

Before we see a movie, I always text our sons to let them know in case they decide they want to get in touch with us during that two-hour window. Granted, the Mister and  I usually see films before they wake up, but I think a heads-up always is warranted.

The above text was the exchange between my older son and I, as I told him that we were about to see “Gravity” last Saturday. Just too funny!

Even more hilarious? He had no idea that I was referring to the movie!

Sidebar: Even though I hate paying the extra money, we saw “Gravity” in 3D and felt it was well worth it. Just be prepared to literally suspend believability. We did enjoy “Enough Said” (James Gandolfini’s final movie, and you can’t help but think that the entire time) more, by the way.

“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.

Going Ape for “Chimpanzee”

Oscar is the star of the movie.

I guess it’s fitting that on Earth Day (aka yesterday), the Mister and I saw “Chimpanzee” at our AMC Theater.

And, of course, it’s also fitting that we went  to a Disney flick without our one at-home child, making us about the only childless parents watching. Which meant we could hog the popcorn!

Oscar and his mom

“Chimpanzee” was lush, lively, and fascinating. We learned so much about these animals, especially the bond between a baby (Oscar) and his mother (Isha). The film follows cute Oscar and his group as they work to stay alive in the jungle. The filming is amazing! The audience gets an up-close look at the workings of this extended family of chimps.

Tim Allen (aka Buzz Lightyear) does a decent job narrating the movie, with an emphasis on keeping everything on the light side. It’s short at only 77 minutes, but it felt like it was the right length (no Timex checks needed).

“Chimpanzee” is a wonderful family film . . . assuming you can get members of your family to go.

Double Feature: “The Lorax” and “Hugo”

The Lorax: Cute, cuddly, and grumpy (kind of like the Mister)

Yesterday was all about family movies for us. Well, except that my family didn’t quite cooperate with one of them.

First, the four of us (yes, my older son is home for spring break!) watched “The Lorax” at our local AMC. The boys and I really enjoyed it; however, the grumpy Mister never likes having environmental messages forced on him. I thought this one—take care of nature, so nature can take care of you—was gentle enough. Plus the songs were well done and cute.

Danny DeVito is excellent as the Lorax, who is the guardian of the trees. Zac Efron (Ted), Taylor Swift (Audrey), and Ed Helms (the Once-ler) also are fine in their roles. I think families will be enjoying “The Lorax” for years to come.

Dr. Seuss, whose birthday coincided with the movie’s opening on March 9, left moviegoers with this sage advice: “Unless someone like you cares an awful whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Georges Mélies and Hugo butt heads.


The boys pretended to have better things to do while the Mister and watched our Netflix rental of “Hugo” last night. Why in the world didn’t we see this in the movie theater? It’s a visual and aural delight!

It’s obvious why the film, directed by Martin Scorsese, won Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing. It’s full and gorgeous! The music is wonderful.

The story about Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), an orphan living alone in a Paris railway station, and a toy shop owner (Ben Kingsley) is interesting and even had me on the edge of the couch a time or two. Of course, it bugged me that even though “Hugo” is set in Paris, all the actors (including two from the “Harry Potter” series) are British.

Even though “Hugo” was one of the best movies I’ve seen, I don’t think it was better than “The Artist,” by the way. Still, add it to your queue or rent it soon!

Long Title, Worthwhile Movie

Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) learns to deal with loss and grief.

Do me a favor: Don’t be dissuaded by negative reviews and not see “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” If so, you’ll have missed a unique, surprisingly uplifting experience. It’s a wonderfully acted movie (you can rarely go wrong with Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Tom Hanks, and Jeffrey Wright) that helps us see how people cope with the loss of a loved one and the desire to always stay connected with that person.

Thomas Horn does a terrific job as Oskar Schell, whose beloved father, Thomas (Hanks), dies in the World Trade Center on 9/11. A jeweler, he, unfortunately, was attending a business meeting at Windows on the World on that fateful day. This is Horn’s first acting job; he was discovered when he excelled in Teen Jeopardy.

Oskar shares a strong bond with his dad (Tom Hanks).

Some reviewers are put off by Horn’s character, who probably has Asperger’s Syndrome, complete with all kinds of anxieties and phobias. But that’s how he’s written in the book the film is based on (I’m reading that novel by Jonathan Safran Foer now; it’s really unusual). Oskar’s father wants his son to move out of his “box,” so he gives him reconnaissance expeditions in Central Park that force him to talk to people and solve riddles.

After Thomas Schell’s death, Oskar finds a key hidden in a vase in his dad’s closet. Believing that it’s linked to something his dad wanted him to find, the preteen journeys through New York City’s five boroughs, facing his fears one step at a time. Will the key unlock a way for Oskar to always remember his father?

Mom Linda (Sandra Bullock) comforts her son.

Bullock has the unenviable role as a grief-stricken wife who doesn’t connect as well with Oskar as her husband always did. (I really related to this, because my younger son has such a strong bond with the Mister.) She seems detached from Oskar when he needs her the most. I was dabbing my eyes with a tissue when this was resolved. The ending is simply wonderful.

Go see this fine movie!

“Iron Lady”: A Fascinating British History Lesson

Meryl Streep IS Margaret Thatcher!

If you’d like to learn more about British history, then “Iron Lady” is a must-see. If you want to watch the most-brilliant actress of her time—Meryl Streep—absolutely transform herself into Margaret Thatcher, then this is a don’t-miss biopic. Just don’t expect this movie to be nearly as good as “The King’s Speech”; it crawls along at a very slow pace.

Sidebar: Even though I recently railed against a certain American (Robert Downey Jr.) for (poorly) playing a Brit, I can’t imagine a British actress who would’ve done a better job than Streep. No American actress nails an accent better than her (watch “Sophie’s Choice”).

The “Iron Lady” tells the story of Thatcher’s rise and fall as Great Britain’s prime minister (1979-1990) using a narrative that switches between what she might be like now—slowly losing her mind to dementia—and pivotal past events. It’s a somewhat-confusing technique that only someone with as much talent as Streep can flawlessly pull off.

The young Margaret Thatcher ponders her political future.

Helping Streep to carry the movie is Alexandra Roach, who plays the younger version of Thatcher. She and Streep look remarkably alike, thanks to prosthetics, and both did a great job executing Thatcher’s distinctive diction.

Denis (Jim Broadbent) and Margaret Thatcher celebrate her victory.

Before seeing the film, I had no idea what Thatcher was like—what motivated her to run for political office (she was greatly influenced by her father, a grocer who also was mayor of their small town); how she placed public service above her family; how her humble upbringing helped her understand what ordinary Brits were going through; and how she had to make the tough, often-hated decisions as prime minister. She obviously was a very-complex woman.

I especially liked some of her quotes. One favorite was: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” Another, which was said in the movie by young Margaret when Denis Thatcher asked her to marry him, was: “One’s life must matter!”

Yes, Margaret Thatcher, your life has mattered! And now we can see the good and the bad of it in the “Iron Lady.”

“Sherlock Holmes”: Time to Replace RDJ

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) matches wits with Professor James Moriarty.

During the holiday season, we tend to give our AMC Stubs card quite a workout. It’s always been a great time for our family to see movies.

First we opted for “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” the sequel to the very successful 2009 movie. Even though the critics mostly panned this newer edition, we wanted to continue to follow Sherlock’s adventures. And we were glad we did! All four of us really liked the movie.

Jude Law returns as Dr. Watson.

Your first question could be: Is the sequel better than or as good as the original? Quite honestly, none of us could even remember the first flick! Is that what happens when you watch a lot of movies? Or is nothing sticking to our gray matter these days?

Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) makes his appearance.

Either way, “A Game of Shadows” stands well on its own. Jude Law returns as Holmes’ trusty assistant, Dr. Watson, and Jared Harris gives an impressive turn as Professor Moriarty, Holmes’ wily adversary. The first part of the movie is pretty slow, but it really picks up in the second half and is quite entertaining.

My biggest problem with this Sherlock Holmes movie? Three words: Robert Downey Jr.

Sidebar: In my mind, I heard “Barty Crouch . . . Junior” from the fourth Harry Potter movie.

I like RDJ in the “Ironman” series, but I think he’s pretty wretched as Sherlock Holmes, because of his weak British accent. Isn’t there an actor in all of England who is better suited to play the great detective?

Perhaps we need to get Sherlock Holmes and Watson on the case!

“50/50”: That’s How Much I Liked/Disliked the Movie

Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) tries to comfort Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Dear Seth Rogen and Julia Roberts: Before you make any more movies that I might like, please call me. I want to talk you out of ruining them for me. Thanks.

The Mister and I saw “50/50” yesterday, which was an apt title for me: I half liked and half disliked the film. “50/50” is an odd dramedy, peculiar because it’s about a young man, Adam (well-played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who has a rare form of spinal cancer. The 50/50 really refers to the odds he has of survival. Usually, there’s nothing funny about cancer and the potential of death.

The movie is based on the real-life health issues of comedy writer Will Reiser, a cancer survivor who wrote the screenplay. Unfortunately for me, Reiser’s real-life best friend is none other than the foul-mouthed actor Seth Rogen. I don’t think Rogen is the least bit funny, so I’ve avoided seeing his movies. But the storyline for “50/50” seemed compelling, so I temporarily set aside my Rogen aversion and hoped he could be ignored.

Guess what: He couldn’t be. That was disappointing. And so was the film’s rampant drug use.

Katherine (Anna Kendrick) is Adam’s young therapist.

Despite my Rogen funk, there was plenty that’s appealing in “50/50.” I especially liked how we see what kind of person Adam is right from the start when he refuses to run across a deserted street until he has the signal. This was a character we could relate to . . . unlike Rogen’s, who uses Adam’s cancer to try to score with women.

Anjelica Huston plays Adam’s worried mother.

Anna Kendrick does a nice job as Adam’s inexperienced therapist, while Anjelica Huston is wonderful as his mother (some of the scenes between mom and son left me weepy). Once again, Bryce Dallas Howard plays the woman we’d all like to give a tongue-lashing, following up on her turn as the hated Hilly Holbrook in “The Help.” Here she’s Rachael, Adam’s increasingly conflicted girlfriend. I also enjoyed the relationship Adam forged with two older chemo compatriots, Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer.

I finally appreciated the Rogen character near the end when he showed his true colors. But Reiser should’ve picked someone other than his real-life bestie for the part, because I think he would’ve toned down the profanity for another actor. The Mister said that Rogen probably thinks the f-word is an everyday adjective, verb, and noun. But we don’t.

And was all that cussing necessary? Not at all. I’ve complained about this before, but I fear it’s falling on Hollywood’s deaf ears. In the real world, people use decent, nonvulgar vocabulary . . . well, at least they do in my social circle (unless I’m alone in the car and driving behind idiots).

Will you like this movie? The odds are 50/50.

A Double Dose of Emma Stone

Love the book (Emma Stone is second from the right)!

I’ll say it loud, and I’ll say it proud: I love me some Emma Stone! I had predicted stardom for her after seeing her wonderful performance in “Easy A.” This weekend I watched her act her heart out in two very-different movies, “The Help” and “Crazy, Stupid Love.”

Quickie summary: She was terrific in both flicks. Not that either movie was terrific, though.

Emma played a too-cute Skeeter Phelan.

First, the Mister and I saw “The Help” Saturday (so glad he likes chick flicks!). I was wary about the movie, because the book by Kathryn Stockett is a masterpiece. How could such a richly written story with such remarkable characters adequately be told on the big screen?

Sadly, it isn’t. The best strategy would be to see the movie before you read the book, which is what my sister Fran is doing. That way you won’t be whispering indignantly to whoever’s closest to you, “That’s not in the book!”

Viola Davis (Aibileen) and Octavia Spencer (Minny) showed such warmth together.

Let’s start with the positives: The acting is wonderful. Even though Emma is too pretty to play Skeeter Phelan (her gangliness and less-than-stellar looks are important to her characterization), she pulls off the role with ease. You can’t help but root for her.

I also especially liked how well the movie portrayed the close relationship between Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer), the two domestics who share the storyline with Skeeter in the book (but not in the movie; however, it didn’t bother me that Aibileen really is the central focus). Don’t be surprised if Davis earns an Oscar nod. The young twins who played little Mae Mobley were precious, and Bryce Dallas Howard did a great job with the hated and hateful Hilly.

The movie amazingly teleports you back to Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s. You almost could feel the racial tension of the times. It’s a groundbreaking film with historical importance. It’s very much worth seeing.

Bryce Dallas Howard (Ronnie’s little girl) is great as evil, ignorant Hilly.

Now for the negatives, both having to do with Skeeter’s mother, Charlotte (Allison Janney): First, in the movie you have no idea why Charlotte felt compelled to fire Constantine (Cicely Tyson), her longtime help who raised and loved Skeeter. Her daughter’s name is changed, and you can’t tell by looking at her why Charlotte would be upset that she was in the house during that get-together (I’m trying not to spoil anything).

This was such an important scene that it’s disappointing the flick totally blew it. I’m sure I was sitting in my seat with my mouth open.

Second, at the end Charlotte says and does things (not in the book) that make her look enlightened when she isn’t at all. That really bothered me. Again, these were critical scenes that were ruined by the screenwriter Tate Taylor, a good friend of Stockett. He should not have tampered with brilliance.

So I just can’t give “The Help” as high a rating as I’d like. I so wanted it to be a five-star movie, but it’ll have to settle for three and a half.

“Crazy, Stupid Love”

Hannah (Emma Stone) shares a laugh with Jacob (Ryan Gosling).

“Crazy, Stupid Love” was next on tap yesterday, seen with the Mister and our older son (little bro opted to sleep in). Of course, I loved Emma, as well as the rest of the actors. Except for Marisa Tomei (who I usually like); she was too over the top.

This was a cute dramedy with some nice twists and turns along the way. I especially liked the bromance between Steve Carell and hunky Ryan Gosling. But it really dragged in the middle (inviting a couple of Timex checks), and the part at the end at the eighth-grade graduation was simply preposterous. The movie had me for awhile, but it let me go right when I wanted to fall in love with it.

I’m giving it three stars out of five.