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NOTE: The review below was written for the original presentation of Stupefy! last December. The latest production features three new cast members, including Chris LaBanca, Ben Ritchie and John Wolbers, who are replacing Blaine Adams, Rob Suozzi and John Foughty, respectively. Additionally, the new rendition includes a 5-minute video pre-show as well as new scenes and a new ending, all in a “faster than last time” 90 minutes.
Story: May ekes out an existence as a cook at a nameless place in a tiny town on the Mojave Desert. Her home is a drab motel room with a bed, a table, a couple of chairs and drinking glasses stored in the bathroom. Her life is dreary but made drastic as well by the unwelcome arrival of her former lover, Eddie.
Just go. That’s really all I have to say. A Jackie Robinson biopic was long overdue and this is an A+ effort. It’s a 9.
Well, it’s another dry week at the cineplex. So if you were hotly anticipating my review of the Evil Dead remake or Jurassic Park 3D I’m sorry to disappoint. Nevertheless, if you insist on getting out of the sunshine and hunkering down in a murky movie theater here are your options:
I will be brief. It was all I could do to stomach the last seven or eight Twilight movies—at least it seemed like that many. Now, author Stephenie Meyer brings us The Host. Instead of vampires, we have aliens; and instead of…well, that’s about it.
Thank you for the great spread in LN for our Change Begins with Me exhibition opening. You have been wonderfully supportive and we couldn’t be more pleased with the impact. You are the best. (2/8/13 issue, p. 7)
Let me just start off by saying that there may not be two more likeable people on the planet than Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. (Yes, Fey’s Garnier hair commercial where she suddenly has the glowing locks of Rapunzel is mildly annoying, but I’m willing to overlook it.) Pairing them in a romantic comedy seems like a no-brainer. The problem here is this isn’t a romantic comedy: It’s not funny and it’s barely romantic. Yes, there are a few one-liners thrown in for good measure, but make no mistake—this movie is a drama. It’s not a bad movie, I just don’t like being duped.
The recipe for a good action movie is fairly simple: You need a believable, if not intelligent, premise; a seemingly undefeatable villain; and an unlikely, albeit handsome and hunky, hero. This movie has that in spades. Yes, it requires a certain willing suspension of disbelief, but don’t all action movies? I am happy to report that Gerard Butler must have fired his agent, as he has transitioned from crappy romantic comedy protagonist to spot-on action hero, a role for which he is much better suited.
I don’t know what to tell you. This movie stars some of the greatest comic actors working today. It has a clever, timely premise and some very funny dialogue. Yet, all I can do is picture a half-dozen studio executives and screenwriters sitting in some dive bar in West Hollywood saying to themselves, How did it all go so terribly wrong?
Once again I find myself on the horns of a dilemma: We have an Academy Award-winning actress at the helm, a fairly original premise and a suspenseful plot. Yet somehow, the movie just misses the mark. It hits the dartboard, but not the bull’s eye.
Story: Walter Huff makes his living selling insurance policies in Los Angeles. He meets with gruff businessman Herbert Nirlinger to discuss the latter’s insurance needs. While at Nirlinger’s impressive home, Huff strikes up a conversation with Herbert’s wife, Phyllis.
When is enough, enough? Die Hard raised the bar on The French Connection. The Matrix raised the bar on Die Hard. What’s left? How many ways can a bad guy kill a good guy? How many ways can a good guy exact revenge? How many car chases/explosions/torture scenes/shootouts do you need to make a movie worth the price of admission? In the end, I think we could all do with a little less sensory overload and a tad more plot. Oddly, this film has too much of both.
Hollywood has grappled with this dilemma for decades. It’s the unanswerable question, the cinematic sphinx. How do you make a sequel/prequel/remake/reboot/re-imagining of a classic? Do Rick and Ilsa meet again? Do the von Trapps form a folk singing group in the Alps? Is tomorrow another day? They tried with The Sting and failed. They tried with Love Story and failed. They tried (many times) with The Wizard of Oz with less-than-overwhelming success. This time—for the most part—they got it right.
OK. If your Oscar checklist is complete, and you are nauseated by the options at the cineplex—as well you should be—there is a silver lining. Not Silver Linings Playbook yet, but you have options. There are some great DVDs that came out this week, so if you want to stay in and hunker down with a good movie, these are my suggestions:
About 25 minutes into this movie—and that’s generous—you start to wonder if the title refers to the I.Q. requirement necessary to enjoy this movie. It is yet another in a long line of sophomoric, offensive, absurd, coming-of-age films that make college kids look like alcoholic kamikazes and make audiences feel like suckers.
So, there’s a movie coming out this week called The Last Exorcism Part II (the sequel to The Last Exorcism). Now, one would think that a movie called The Last Exorcism would not have a sequel—presumably because that exorcism was the last one (still, a movie called The Second-to-Last Exorcism might not have had the same box office draw). In any event, apparently the ability to do a back bend is synonymous with demonic possession and we have another last case. A last, last exorcism, if you will. Of course, if Weekend at Bernie’s II taught us anything, it’s that Hollywood can make a sequel out of anything.
Story: Bernard is an architect, and a very successful one at that. When he’s not designing fancy buildings, he’s designing romantic conquests from his fabulous apartment in Paris. When his old chum Robert pays an unexpected visit, Bernard is delighted to welcome him and promptly introduces Robert to his fiancée, an American stewardess named Gloria.
I will be brief. The mind reels at the thought of the traumatic high school years Nicholas Sparks must have endured to write the stuff he writes, but here we go again. Katie (Julianne Hough), a frightened young woman with a mysterious past, appears in the tiny hamlet of Southport, N.C., constantly looking over her shoulder. If only there were a handsome bachelor--preferably a widower--in the town to discover her secret, free her from her demons and fall in love with her…If only.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the fifth—yes, fifth—installment in the Die Hard franchise. Quick refresher: Die Hard—Nakatomi Plaza, L.A.; Die Hard2: Die Harder—mercenaries rescuing rogue dictator at Dulles Airport, D.C.; Die Hard: With a Vengance—Jeremy Irons runs Sam Jackson and Bruce Willis around Manhattan looking for a bomb in a school, while he robs the Fed; Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard—nobody really saw that one. Now we have A Good Day to Die Hard. You can describe this movie many ways. You could say it’s like spending an hour and a half at a wrecking yard watching a car-crusher. You could say it’s like watching a really expensive, 90-minute Mercedes Benz commercial. Or you can simply call it what it is: awesome.
In all fairness, I have to say it is virtually impossible to review this movie accurately without giving away every idiotic unoriginal plot twist in it. I will say this: You have seen this movie before. That being said, the story, albeit familiar, is suspenseful and at times extremely well-acted.
I have to admit, I went into this movie with the bar set low. The trailer looked dreadful and what’s worse, you sort of got the feeling that they put all the funniest bits into it. This is what I describe as a frustration comedy—a nice guy is getting screwed and a bad/ annoying/ overbearing character is doing all the damage. There’s a fine line with this type of comedy: The good guy has to have just enough of a negative in his personality that the audience can tolerate his abuse, and the foil has to have just enough of a soft side that we forgive him or her in the end. The question here is, is this Planes, Trains and Automobiles or The Cable Guy?
Story: Chiclet Forrest wants desperately to be included in the fun times of the local Malibu surfer group. She’s a bit reserved, perhaps because of the quiet life she lives with her mother. It’s 1962, and Mrs. Forrest likes to dress up and sip a martini while doing the domestic chores.
Story: Bobby Gould and Charlie Fox have clawed and scrapped their way through the celluloid jungle known as Hollywood for more than a decade. Now, Bobby has a corner office at a big production company and Charlie has brought him a killer script. It’s by a hot writer named Doug Brown, a ‘buddy movie,’ and Charlie says it’ll make boatloads o’ money for both of them. It’ll also put their names together on the silver screen as producers of this can’t-miss hit.
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