Tag Archives: Steve Carell

“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.

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.

Seven Months of POTDs Completed!

The Thinker (aka, my #2 son) at the Amateur Worlds Disc Golf Championships. (July 2)

After seven months of photos of the day under my ample belt, I can honestly say that every day when I wake up, one of my first thoughts is “I wonder what will be the pic that defines today.” Every now and then I have it chosen in advance. For example, today is my #1 son’s annual eye appointment with our optometrist friend Dr. Nina. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s the POTD (yes, I’ll have my camera with me).

But most of the time the POTD is totally unexpected. That’s been the most fun part of taking a photo every day since January 1.

My #1 son smiles as his brother looks through baseball cards. (July 14)

Now that we’re into August, I wonder if I’m going to concentrate my POTDs on my #1 son. We’ll be dropping him off at college on August 21, which means I need to take advantage of his photo ops while I can.

Check back during the month to see!

Two thumbs up with tons of laughs

Steve Carell and Paul Rudd star in ”Dinner for Schmucks.”

The family chose to see “Dinner for Schmucks” at the $5 movie yesterday morning, and we roared with laughter . . . along with everyone else in the theatre. Not only was it amazingly funny, but it also delivered a poignant message about being yourself and how to treat people. Highly recommended!

A word to the wise, though . . . no way should it be rated PG-13. The Mom Motion Picture Association of America (of which I am the president and only member) gives it an R rating.