Crazy, Stupid, Love. Is wonderfully more than I expected!

I went in ready for some fluffy romantic comedy fun–(starring some of my favorite people)–and by the end, I was in LOVE with Crazy, Stupid, Love.  Refreshingly, it does not follow a formula, instead it chooses to follow a man’s journey to try to understand this thing we call love.  The cast is pitch perfect and the writing is funny and full of heart.  But what sells this is the chemistry between its talented stars.

Steve Carell continues to impress.  He has this amazing ability to become the average man, yet remains wickedly sharp.  Ryan Gosling is fantastic!  (One of my favorites.)  Gosling has turned in some incredible performances and here he uses his skill to add little details that add depth to his womanizing alpha male.  Add the always wonderful Julianne Moore, the charming Emma Stone, who I have a crush on and the young, scene stealing Jonah Bobo –and you have an unforgettable ensemble.

I felt connected to these characters.  I felt their pain and loneliness.  I shared in their love.  I laughed with them and felt their embarrassment.  That’s a huge accomplishment for a 2 hour movie to make.  I will praise the directors, Glenn Ficarra and  John Requa and the screenwriter, Dan Fogelman for that.  Bravo!

I will boldly say you will fall in love with this film, too.  Really?  Yes, I believe in it that much.  Let’s call it faith…faith in love.

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Cowboys & Aliens fails to captivate

A man mostly in shadow, a hat on his head and revolver in his right hand. On his left wrist is a metal bracelet glowing with a blue light.

I was looking forward to Cowboys & Aliens.  I liked everyone involved and the previews were cool.  So, imagine my disappointment that after a promising 15 minutes the movie fails to captivate–instead it starts a slow steady decline.  It ends being shallow, dull and honestly, a bit cheesy. 

Although Daniel Craig‘s Jake Lonergan is introduced as a serious badass–that is all is he–no depth or dimension is found.  And that is pretty much true about all the characters.  Everyone is flat.  The most interesting is Harrison Ford‘s Dolarhyde but barely.  I think Jon Favreau is a talented director (LOVE Elf and Iron Man) and CvsA is nicely shot, but again nothing stands out.

The premise is a little dumb and the aliens are strange and one-note.  The worst part though is the dialogue.  I was rolling my eyes a few times.  “Don’t look at the light.”  Of course, person looks into the  light.  Smarter person destroys light source and quips, “I told you not to look at the light.”  Really?  Wow. 

I do not know how precious your time, but you may want to think if you want to waste 2 hours of your time watching this while trapped in a dark theater.  Or you can just wait until the DVD release, that way you can do dishes at the same time.

Attack the Block is brilliant!

Attack the Block Poster

Once in a while you go into a theater and it happens…magic.  Strong characters.  Creative setting.  Cool effects.  Bad Ass action.  And you walk out excited and satisfied.  Attack the Block is this year’s District 9–coming out of nowhere and becoming an instant classic!

Writer and director Joe Cornish creates a realistic universe.  He sets up the characters cleverly and quickly–allowing him to jump into the action.  What is cool, too–is that the aliens are unique and their attack plausible.

What I really loved though was the humor and the emotional connection he established.  So, while you are screaming and biting your nails, you really do not want any of them to come to harm.  Well done!

I do not want to give much away–all I will say is that it is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year–and I want you to enjoy it too!

Friends With Benefits is a pleasant surprise!

Although romantic comedies have a consistent formula, you never  know what you will get–will it  be painfully bad?  Sadly mediocre?  Entertainingly cute?  Okay good?  Or the rare gem?   I think I found a ruby here.  One of the great things about Friends With Benefits is that it makes fun of itself while talking about the influence of romantic comedies on our culture.  It does not forget its place–yet Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake have enough talent and chemistry to make this one work. 

I may have already said this–but I like reality.  I hate when they fall in love in two days–that does NOT happen–EVER!  You can’t know someone completely in two days.  So, all my favorite Rom Coms are realistic–as realistic as possible for a movie.  When Harry met SallyTwo Weeks NoticeGoing the Distance–those are few of my all time favorites.  What they also have in common is a wonderful supporting cast.  You have to believe the universe.  As you may have guessed Friends with Benefits has all that going on (unlike the disappointing No Strings Attached from earlier this year). 

I loved the extended family subplots.  The parents were awesome–Richard Jenkins and Patricia Clarkson are some of the best character actors out there!  Then add Woody Harrelson, as the work buddy, for good measure and you can’t go wrong.

Yet this story belongs to the stars–Kunis and Timberlake are both naturals and they make this look easy. (Both of these actors are going to have long careers.) Funny, sweet and even a bit raunchy–it is their delivery that makes it.  It was also refreshing to see sex talked about truthfully–and shown in some unromantic ways. 

Bottom line, you will have fun watching these two people find their happily ever after–cuz you know they’re going to find it–c’mon it’s a romantic comedy! ** insert sappy pop song–“Hey Soul Sister! Ain’t that Mr. Mister on the radio…”

Captain America is the cat’s meow!

YES!!  They got this right!  Captain America The First Avenger is awesome! Everything works.  The cast is perfect.  The action is cool.  The 1940s setting is sweet. And best of all, it has heart.  I cared for every character.  I was invested 100%.  I love when that happens. 

Let’s start with Chris Evans–he IS Steve Rogers.  He plays him with stubbornness, vulnerability and amazing courage.  There were several moments that were emotionally raw and it was wonderful.   The supporting cast couldn’t have been better–Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hayley Atwell, the Howling Commandos, Stark’s Dad–all great! 

Now, you know how I feel about villains–well, Hugo Weaving is brilliant! He plays Johann Schmidt/Red Skull masterfully.  Intense, proud and a bit mad.  Let me not forget Toby Jones as Schmidt’s sidekick, Dr. Zola–again, perfect! 

I loved that the fights were all based on reality–he has super human strength, yet all his actions are based on real movements.  And all the “toys” and weapons look like they belong in that time period, as well as his outfit–nice details.  I know I am gushing–but it is pretty damn cool. 

I laughed.  I cringed.  I hooted.  And I even cried.  I call that a full movie experience.  And now I want to see it again…

Goodbye Harry Potter!

What an incredible story, told by wonderful storytellers.  I have always kept the novels and the films separate.  They’re different mediums and must be judged accordingly.   The Harry Potter films have been exciting to watch.  We have seen the cast grow and have seen our favorite story brought to life.  The Deathly Hallows Pt 2 is a wonderful ending to that experience.  Now, go out and read the books if you haven’t already–if you loved the films–the books are 200% better! 🙂

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is Classic Michael Bay

The poster depicts of a Transformer named Optimus Prime, standing with his blade on his left arm, and his blaster on his right arm, with a young couple standing below the Transformer, and standing in front of a crashlanded Decepticon fighter. The characters appear to be in the war-torn city of Chicago, with Decepticon battleships surrounding and guarding the city. The film title and credits are on the bottom of the poster.

The Bay Transformers checklist.  Objectify a woman.  Check.  Slow motion shot from below.  Check.  Scream out “BUMBLEBEEEEEE!!!” and “OPTIMUUUUUUUUSSSS!”  Check.  Tons of action-cool special effects-yet, light on plot and characters.  Check.  Robot on Robot action.  Check.   A bit too long.  Check.  Fun time at the movies.  Check.

My Tom Hanks crush only intensifies after watching Larry Crowne

Those who know me, know that I will marry Tom Hanks in an instant!  He is awesome! Funny, intelligent, warm, gentle, and…just plain wonderful!  So, maybe I am not objective enough to say anything bad about Larry Crowne, but I can’t see how I could.  But I know some will not love it.  Why?  Because it is NOT a typical Hollywood movie. 

Directed by Hanks and written by Hanks and the lovely Nia Vardalos, it is a simple story told without the usual Hollywood trimmings.  No sex, no drugs, no brooding teenagers, no robots or vampires and not even an ounce of violence.  What it does have is hope and optimism.  No wonder it is getting mixed reviews! 

I loved all the characters introduced in this quiet little universe.  They were real.  (I even liked Julia Roberts, who most of the time I tolerate but never like.) The film takes its time.  You are an observer granted access to this man’s life, which at times could make you laugh and/or cry.

And it all comes down to Tom Hanks.  He is believable, funny and perfect as an average joe who is fired from his job and is forced to rebuild his life.  Today any of us can be in Larry Crowne’s situation, if only we could all respond with the dignity and determination he does, maybe then we will be alright.