Category Archives: Romance

Ted

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Very funny as well as fun, although not as many hilarious moments as I had hoped for. The memorable fight scene between Ted (aka the teddy bear) and his childhood buddy Mark Wahlberg is uniquely done, kept me laughing and incredulous. Kind of made me wonder towards the end of the film when Ted is unable to defend himself against a couple of minor goons, where did his fighting instincts go. Mila Kunis is wonderful as always, although in a thankless role of not even straight man/woman, but the exasperated girlfriend who’s too often the odd man/person out in this buddy film. It’s a romantic comedy at heart, however, which follows the hollywood script of boy meets girl, etc. To make this a great movie, they should have employed some of Sasha Baron Cohen’s go for broke sensibility, or at least borrowed his best writers.

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

I can think of a lot of words to describe this movie: rude, crude, funny, politically incorrect, and nostalgic. Ted has a lot of very funny moments but, as Bill says, not as many hilarious moments as I expected. And of course it’s stupid. Not just because it’s a movie for adults (this is not for kids) about a living teddy bear, but because of things like Bill points out with Ted’s ability to protect himself. They also couldn’t keep the weather straight. In one scene Ted is getting soaked in a rain storm. In the next scene just fifteen minutes later, they’re at an outdoor concert and the weather is beautiful. In a later scene there’s a thunder storm and another fifteen minutes later, Mila Kunis is gazing in a Boston sky that has not seen so many stars since the invention of the light bulb!

I was surprised by all the cameos in this movie: Norah Jones (she must really have wanted publicity for her new album), Tom Skerritt, Ryan Reynolds,  Johnny Carson (in a very funny Forrest Gump-like appearance) and Sam J Jones of Flash Gordon fame. There are a lot of funny references to old movies, TV shows and commercials and I loved the pictures of Ted and John in movie scenes in the opening credits.

As far as performances go, I thought Ted was awesome. He can sing, dance, fight (sometimes), showed great range and did his own stunts!  Mila was wasted.  I learned that Mark Wahlberg can talk very fast and that Sam Jones still can’t act.

This movie would be best seen at a theater like the Alamo Drafthouse, with a bucket of beer to let you focus on the funny moments and forget the stupid ones. Unfortunately I saw this at a regular theater. Otherwise I might have rated this a little higher.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

Ted

Rock of Ages

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

Rock of Ages is the movie adaptation of the semi-successful Broadway musical. Set in 1987, this is the story of the romance between a small town girl and a city boy as they try to achieve their musical dreams in Hollywood. It’s also the story of the fight to save rock and roll from the powerful old farts who try to ban this evil scourge. This is where the film started to lose me, as it takes place a couple of years after the making of Footloose – a movie set in the late 50s or early 60s about the fight to save rock and roll from the powerful old farts in power trying to ban this evil scourge. Weren’t we past that in 1987, especially in L.A.?

I have not seen the stage show but my guess is the dancing and energy are better live (although I assume they did not have the monkey – and he/she was excellent!). I’m not a dance man but I didn’t think the choreography was all that great. Some of the numbers just seemed weird to me – for example the one with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the church. But the music was good and helped to keep the movie moving.

Rock of Ages had a good cast, but most of the big names were in supporting roles and weren’t fully utilized. This included Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Bryan Cranston (speaking of which, I need to finish season 3 and 4 of Breaking Bad before season 5 starts!) and Tom Cruise. Cruise had the biggest supporting role as the aging Rock God, but it was a pretty one-dimensional role. I will give him credit for looking like a Rock God in his concert scenes. The two younger leads were OK but nothing great.

I didn’t have high expectations for this movie, but was curious about Cruise and his role. Bottom line – unless you’re really into musicals and or 80s music, you can probably skip this one.

IMDB

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Best Marigold Hotel

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Very pleasant film, of the (multiple) fish out of water genre, 2012 version of Cocoon where old folks find their second life through exposure and immersion in a different culture. Best English actors of their age infuse this movie with their incredible talents, from Maggie Smith to Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, they make it look effortless and keep your attention regardless of the run-of-the-mill plot. Dev Patel is fun as the young scion of a wealthy family trying to make his vision a reality of a wonderful hotel where old people will want to live until they die. Reality of making a profitable venture get in the way, while his first crop of paying patients/guests find things to turn them on in the surrounding environment of a hectic Jaipur.

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Rotten Tomatoes

Moonrise Kingdom

Bill C’s review – 3.5 out of 5

Moonrise Kingdom is the latest from quirky director Wes Anderson.  Some of Anderson’s previous films include Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaum’s and the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Moonrise Kingdom is set in summer 1965 in a small laid back New England town and is about two young teenagers, Suzy (a member of a dysfunctional family) and Sam (an orphan who is spending the summer at boy scout camp).  They run away together and the town and scout troop search for them as a hurricane approaches.

Anderson has his own unique style and as in all of his films this is filled with interesting characters. They include Bruce Willis as the town police officer, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s parents, Edward Norton as Sam’s troop leader, Tilda Swinton as ‘Social Services’ and Jason Schwartzman as the strange Uncle Ben.   But most of these characters take a back seat to the fine performances of  newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman playing Suzy and Sam.

While this has it’s funny moments (especially involving the scouts) I didn’t think this was as consistently funny as some of Anderson’s other movies.  However I found the young love story of two trouble kids sweet and touching.

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

Besides the forgettable title (I had to look again at my ticket receipt just now to remember it) I loved this film, had a smile on my face throughout. Wes Anderson’s truly unique style makes this a fantasy, children’s story metaphor that combines some realistic characters (mainly the grown-ups: Bill Murray’s burnout, neglectful husband and father, Bruce Willis’ decent, lonely, sheriff, Frances McDormand’s cynical, lazy, housewife/mother who relies on a megaphone to call her kids up the stairs to dinner) with some snappy dialogue spouted from 12 year-olds, including the two amazing leads. This puts Juno to shame in fashioning beyond-their-years youngsters who seem to have their acts together and appreciate life’s adventures better than their elders. I guess you should bring your kids to this, don’t think their’s anything outwardly R rated, and the sexual undertones are fairly discrete (an affair where you don’t even see the adults kissing) or so chaste (first french kiss, skinny dipping with their clothes on…well they dry off in their underwear afterwards). The plot gets a little crazy towards the end but you will like the realistic ending. Keep an eye out for Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman in small but great roles. I don’t think I can describe this very well, you just have to see it.

 

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The Dictator

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Sacha Baron Cohen is at it again with another politically incorrect, raunchy comedy. If you don’t like Cohen’s type of movie there is no reason to read any further – this movie is not for you.

Instead of his fictional character roaming around in the real world, Cohen plays a dictator looking for love and trying to preserve his dictatorship in a totally fictional story.  Of course, everyone/everything is fair game to be mocked including our political system, race relations, dictators around the world, etc. This is not nearly as good as Borat but a little better than Bruno (which I thought was sort of mean-spirited).

This movie had a lot of very funny moments but also had a lot of misses. If you’re a Cohen fan, the hits will outnumber the misses and will make for an enjoyable night at the movies.

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

I decided to count the “hits” to analyze exactly how much fun this movie is, and for me I had 63 LOL moments! That’s more than I could hope for, expecting maybe 12 times when I had to do more than smile but make laughing, guffawing and other shout-outs type sounds. Yes, many were spurred from one-liners, low brow scenes, skits that were crammed into the story plot (e.g. tourist helicopter scene), but so what, isn’t that what made Woody Allen famous? Proud to note my fellow high school alum, David Mandel, is one of the writers (he was key writer on Seinfeld – remember “Man Hands”?, and now on Curb Your Enthusiasm). Keep the laughs coming!!!

IMDB

Rotten  Tomatoes

The Five-Year Engagement

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Quick review: pleasant, charming romantic comedy from Judd Apotow’s production group, co-written by, and co-starring, Jason Segal. Emily Blunt plays Jason’s fiance, and for various reasons their engagement is delayed, then endangered then concluded in a way I won’t give away here. Some very funny moments, and some typical plot twists. I love both of these actors, but after having recently viewed Her Sister’s Sister, where Emily Blunt also plays a similar role, where her best friend and her take years to cement their relationship, I see that The Five-Year Engagement plays it too safe and comes across as too predictable. Her Sister’s Sister is more exciting, more outrageous fun moments, and ultimately a more satisfying ending. The most obvious common thread of these two films is Emily Blunt. Her amazing ability to act without appearing to be acting, and often appear to be improvising, is enhanced by her likability and charm, and goofy laugh, making it believable that these guys fall in love with her and stay in love after years and various travails. My advice: wait until Her Sister’s Sister comes out (I saw  it at Tribeca Film Fest).

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

I thought this movie was ok but it didn’t live up to my expectations from Jason Segal and Judd Apatow (producer). I was hoping for another Forgetting Sarah Marshall (since Segal wrote that too) but I didn’t think The Five-Year Engagement was nearly as funny. As Bill points out, the film was very predictable and, while you would expect tension between the couple in a romantic comedy, there was so much here that I would have been ok if they didn’t get together at the end. I also thought the ending was a little too cutesy (is ‘cutesy’ a technical movie review term?).

The movie did have some good moments and I thought the best performance was by Chris Pratt (from Parks and Recreation) in a supporting role.

IMDB

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The Five Year Engagement trailer Jason Segel and Emily Blunt star in The Five Year Engagement trailer

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Bill I’s Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Some reviewers called this a terrible title, but at least it’s accurate. What would be an alternative: “When Ascerbic Civil Servant met Hot Lawyer”? or “Faith and Hope beat Science”? or most likely “Swimming Upstream”. So yes, this is a story of a rich sheikh who’s so into fly fishing in his Scotland estate that he decides to create a dam in the Yemen desert, which would create a stream of water that he can dump 10,000 salmon in, hope they swim upstream and his countrymen can discover the joy of fishing. Since money brings power, he has an upscale London law firm (with the lovely Emily Blunt as his personal advisor) make it happen, including obtaining the services of aforementioned ascerbic civil servant scientist (perfect Ewan McGregor), and aided by ultra hyper-political HR flack for the Prime Minister (wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas, watch her try to manage/bully/mother her kids). Side stories are Ewan’s cold, controlling wife, and Emily’s soldier boyfriend sent to Afghanistan. The Shiekh is like a handsome Yoda, spouting wisdom through a sly grin, while truly experiencing the joys of casting his fly and patiently waiting for a bite. Don’t worry, the viewers actually never have to wait longer than about 20 seconds for these guys to catch a big one. I wonder how much film ended up on the digital cutting room floor waiting for the right fish to come along. These salmon personify the true meaning of an extra, I guess. The whole project is a rich man’s fantasy and obsession, that in retrospect reminds me of Donald Trump for some reason, with his apprentices kowtowing to his every wish. Overall, a very pleasant, enjoyable viewing experience. I recommend it, if you want an alternative to American Reunion this weekend!

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

My wife was disappointed because she was expecting a documentary about salmon fishing. But I enjoyed this romantic comedy from director Lasse Hallstrom. Emily Blunt recruits Ewan McGregor, playing the pre-eminent fishing expert in Britain, to help realize a Yemen Sheik’s dream to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen. This endeavor requires faith and at first McGregor is against the idea. But he goes along after meeting the charismatic sheik and beginning to enjoy Blunt’s company. Over time his faith grows in the project.

The dialogue and humor are good and for the most part this is an enjoyable, easygoing comedy. As with any good movie about salmon (A River Runs Through It), the metaphors run hot and heavy about having to go against the stream. At times the movie gets a little too serious and Hallstrom could have been a little more subtle in spots.

The performance were ok. I especially liked Kristin Scott Thomas and Amir Waked in supporting roles. While not great, overall it was an enjoyable evening at the movies (and my wife liked it too after getting over the disappointment that I hadn’t taken her to a documentary).

IMDB – Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Rotten Tomatoes – Salmon Fishing In The Yemen