Thursday, April 29, 2010

Percy Jackson

Georgia: well, Iknow it's alittle late to be rating, but so what?! (p.s. I'm doing this in Pennsylvania.)I thought the movie was good (and I just finished the 4th book)
Though being a good movie, it was not really like the book.(As you will soon hear)They were too, too,OLD!!! He is in MIDDLESCHOOL, not HIGHSCHOOL!!!!!!!!!! ALso,Annabeth has BLONDE hair,not BRUNETTE!!! Now,instead of hearing my mom's opinion, you will read Tim's opinion(6th grader from Pennsylvania) Enjoy!

TIM:I found the graphics in the movie to be very good. But don't go to the movie expecting it to be like the book because you will be sadly mistaken. If you have never read the books I highly reccomend going to your local library to get them.If you have only read the first JUST KEEP READING THEY GET MUCH BETTER AND IT ALL LEADS UP TO THE LAST BOOK THE LAST OLYMPIAN.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Tooth Fairy

Georgia- Anyone care for cat-away or perhaps amnesia dust? I think it was awesome! Julie Andrews plays the queen of tooth fairyland. She doesn't like to be interrupted and is hysterical! The basic plot is Derrick Thompson (Dwayne Johnson)is a dream-destroying, hockey playing guy that has to serve tooth fairy duty. He helps 3 people along the way; Randy (his girlfriends son,)Tracy (fairy case worker,) and himself. Overall, A DELIGHT, 1,000,000,000 stars!

I think Georgia is over-rating it a bit...1 billion stars seems a little much from this mom's perspective. However, there is pure joy in seeing Julie Andrews aka Mary Poppins aka Maria von Trapp aka Queen Clarice from Princess Diaries aka Nanny from Eloise add this final "queen" role to her repertoire. Seeing her stare down Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson while he is dressed in a pink tutu is almost worth the price of admission alone.

If there are any fans out there who have been wondering what happened to Ashley Judd-me, Wendy, anybody else?--she shows up in The Tooth Fairy as the Rock's girlfriend. How this happened, I have no idea--How do you go from A Time to Kill, Double Jeopardy, Kiss the Girls, and Someone Like You w/Hugh Jackman to The Tooth Fairy? I don't get it. Let me know if you have any theories...I know she got married to the Italian race car driver in real life but The Tooth Fairy? All she does is make goo-goo eyes at The Rock through the whole thing.

The Rock is in his sweet zone in this movie playing a pro-hockey player dubbed "the Tooth Fairy" because he's known for knocking his opponents' teeth out on the ice. It's pure testerone out of control that gets tamped down by the humbling experience of being a tooth fairy for a few weeks.

Billy Crystal has a guest role as an old Tooth Fairy and he is his usual smart alec self. I wish they'd given him more screen time. One last piece of advice--if you go see it, make sure you stick around in the theater during the credits because there's a "bonus scene" w/Julie Andrews & Billy Crystal this is worth the wait, my friends.

Overall, decent kid movie. My three girls all laughed and enjoyed it thoroughly. I spent only a few minutes during our viewing contemplating my "to do lists" and what to make for dinner.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's Complicated--suprisingly underwhelmed


Okay--I am a HUGE Nancy Meyers fan (the writer/director of It's Complicated). She wrote & produced both Father of the Bride movies w/Steve Martin & one of my all-time favorite writer movies--Something's Gotta Give. She also wrote, produced & directed The Holiday w/Cameron Diaz & Kate Winslet, another rainy day DVD fave.

So I was geared up to see It's Complicated starring Meryl Streep as a 50 something divorced mother of 3 who ends up having an "affair" with her re-married ex-husband played by Alec Baldwin.

You can count on three things in any Meyers movie: 1. the location will be gorgeous--in this case Santa Barbara, Montecito in particular judging by the Streep's character's lavish "estate." 2. everybody in the movie is wealthy & white 3. that there will be some bitingly funny scenes involving the awkwardness of aging.

In It's Complicated, #3 happens in the plastic surgeon's office and is undeniably hilarious, especially when Streep's character Jane runs screaming out of the plastic surgeon's office only to bump into her ex-husband Jake (Alex Baldwin) & his 30 something wife on the "Fertility Clinic" floor.

Alec Baldwin is wonderful as Jake, and I say that with considerable effort as Baldwin does not impress me in his personal life. But, on screen as Jake, he is adorable and endearing and charismatic.

Unfortunately, the sparks between Streep & Baldwin do not fly in It's Complicated. When I compare the love affair depicted in Julie & Julia between Streep playing Julia Child & Stanley Tucci playing Paul Child, Baldwin & Streep are like 7th graders having their first kiss. There's no there there.

John Krasinski from tv's The Office is funny as Jane's future son-in-law who is put in a pickle when he catches on to the escalating affair between Jane & Jake.

The best thing about this movie is Streep. She is sexy, funny, and doing her best with a somewhat limited script. Steve Martin plays her potential unmarried love interest and his comic abilities are mainly left untouched as his character is reeling from a bad divorce and does not exhibit many emotions other than a puppy dog like grin through most of the film. This is a crime to tie up Martin like this. He is not a good straight man. Alec Baldwin's Jake gets to have all the fun. Steve--you need script approval rights the next time out with Nancy.

The pieces were there for Meyers to make a really funny, interesting movie with It's Complicated and somehow, they just don't add up to much more than a light diversion.

Worth a matinee admission at the theater. Good date movie. Good chick flick.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Invictus--wait for the DVD release

This review is solely by Amy.

How can you go wrong with Clint Eastwood directing, Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela & Matt Damon as a hunky rugby player?

Apparently you can. Invictus tells the story of the newly freed Nelson Mandela trying to unite post-apartheid South Africa through the vehicle of the country's national rugby team. Great drama potential, right?

Here's what no one else is telling you: our man Clint--whose Million Dollar Baby is, in my opinion, one of the most perfectly made movies ever--dialed this one in. Maybe he thought with Morgan Freeman playing Mandela all you had to do was let the cameras roll.

Because that's pretty much what Eastwood did. There are long monologues of Mandela addressing the people, in political speeches that may have been riveting in the real life moment but fall flat on the screen. Freeman tries to hint at the personal sacrifice Mandela paid for being imprisoned for almost 30 years--his wife and daughter remain estranged even after he is freed and becomes President Mandela. But there is not enough of it. We never get a chance to fully experience the human Mandela because Eastwood gives us so little screen time and interactions of Mandela in one on one conversations. The longest we get is when Mandela invites Matt Damon's character--Francois Piennar captain of the South African rugby team--to tea to convince him that the team can win the Rugby World Cup and united a divided South Africa.

"Invictus" is a great idea for a movie--sports unite a divided country--and Freeman gives his typical fine, elegant & nuanced performance. Damon's role is pretty minimal--we never learn much about who this guy is other than he's good at rugby and likes to lead by example. Damon looks very hunky all beefed up and the South African accent on him is fairly delicious.

The movie does reveal the astuteness of Mandela's political judgement--it was a stroke of brilliance & great risk on his part to support the almost all-white national rugby team when it symbolized white supremacy to the black population & national pride to the white population.

He calculated that by bringing the focus of the world onto South Africa for something positive--contending for world cup rugby--versus its racial struggles, the country might continue to inch forward in its path to life following apartheid.

I should tell you that I'm the lone voice in the wilderness on this one. It's alreaday received three Golden Globe nominations and will doubtless garner more award.

I could just never forget that I was watching a movie while viewing Invictus. It felt like a documentary, a fairly interesting one, but never quite the movie it could have been.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Alvin & the Chipmunks--The Squeakel and Princess and the Frog

Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeakel
I think it was a great movie. (Of course most critics didn't like it.)The Chipettes weren't as girly as I thought they were going to be. They stuck together, even when Ian tries to make JUST Britany the star. Meanwhile, Alvin totally turns his back on Simon and Theodore so he can hangout at the jock table.(He eventually comes to his senses.)Lastly, Ian pretty much goes crazy and the Chipmunks and the Chipettes are formed.

The Princess and the Frog
It's a great movie! Perfect for chefs, kids (not just girls,)people in New Orleans, music-lovers,families, and MORE! With an unexpected ending, a weird blind woman(who loves snakes!,)a poor prince, a jazzy alligator, and a girl with a restaurant dream. Overall it is a perfect movie because it's NOT your classic princess tale.

Alvin & the Chipmunks the Squeakel
Okay, I was not looking forward AT ALL to seeing this movie. I only took the two older girls because our youngest went down for a nap and my wife was psyched about watching the 49ers on TV. I even asked Georgia & Gracie moments before walking into the theater if they minded if I went to see a "mommy movie" while they saw Alvin. The answer was a vehement "yes, we mind."

So, here's the good news should you find yourself with children begging you to see this movie--it's not that bad. I actually laughed out loud more than a few times. There's a particularly funny scene involving a Wii remote & a flat screen TV that had me rolling.

Message-wise: As Georgia stated above, the 3 sister group--the Chipettes--remain in true sisterhood despite efforts to make one of them--the "cutest" one--the lead singer. Alvin & the boys have a similar theme--family stick-togetheredness. While it's not terribly original or "cutting edge" (they are computer-generated talking chipmunmks let us not forget)-I did not feel my $27 admission fees were in vain. The girls liked it, I got a laugh out of it, and without revealing too much, you will never be able to hear Beyonce's Single Ladies ever again without seeing the Chipettes.

Princess & the Frog
We took the whole brood to see this--me, the wifey, the 11, 6, & 2 year olds plus Gracie's best friend Charlie. The thing that struck me immediately is it's look--created by using hand drawn images, the old fashioned way vs. computer animation--which is pure, old-fashioned Disney. The images of 1900s New Orleans--from the French Quarter to the bayou to the Disneyified version of "wrong side of town" are rich, warm & evocative. You will be longing for beignets when the film is finished.

And I have to disagree w/Georgia--this Princess movie ends the way ALL Disney princess movies end. Cue the bells. What's really different about this is the obvious--the lead character, the "princess," is African American. Hello. First we had Pocahontas. Then Mulan. Now, finally, Tiana. Dark headed, brown eyed, brown skinned girls around the world may rejoice. And Tiana's plucky, determined and just too darn busy pursuing her dream of opening her own restaurant to worry about silly old boys. Well, almost too busy.

When the film lands its two heroes--Tiana & Prince Naveen, both turned into frogs by this point--in the Bayou, things really pick up and it's great songs, singing gators, and the funniest Cajun lightning bug you have ever seen. Almost all the scenes in the bayou are magical.

There is the requisite classic Disney freaky antagonist and in Princess & the Frog they have created a vodoo man sure to haunt some of your more sensitive children's dreams for months to come so beware--there are trippy vodoo scenes w/swirling colors, dancing dead guys, and graveyards. There is the spoiled Southern belle who drives you crazy because she's such a ninny-more Scarlet O'Hara than Scarlet--but ultimately makes an unselfish sacrifice at the end that saves her from worst Disney character status.

Bottom line--good movie, some really great songs, and another minor character--Ray the Cajun lightning bug--to fall in love with.

Food for thought: Would Disney ever make a "princess movie" about an adventure a princess girl had that did not involve some romantic entaglement? What do you think? Would you go? Would your daughters and sons want to go? I know the answer in my house. Let me go and get started on that screenplay...

Why the World Needs This Blog

Mom: Amy, in the twilight years of her 30s, parent to 3 daughters, ages 11, 6 & 2.
Daughter: Georgia, in the twilight year of Elementary School.


GEORGIA: I think the world needs this blog because I'm tired of stupid reviews of kid movies. Most movie critics don't understand what kids like. If a kids movie review is good, you can bet most kids will hate it. Cases in point: Where the Wild Things Are--critics loved it. I was creeped out by it. My two younger sisters didn't like it either. The six-year old Gracie said, "It's bad and mean." And then there was The Bee Movie a few years ago. Critics loved it and I hated it because it had no storyline at all & was totally boring.

But once in awhile "the critics" get it right like with "Princess and the Frog" and "Up."

My movie biases: I don't like anything scary or super sad. And I love anything with Anne Hathaway.

My pledge to our devoted readers is this: I pledge to write exactly what I thought of the movie, good or bad.

AMY : When it comes to kids movie reviews, at least the ones our family reads--namely the ones in our local Bay Area papers, the reviewers seem to universally hate all kid movies almost on principal. I can imagine these titans of film criticism theory being forced to review the latest Miley Cyrus flick on a Saturday when they could be watching something important & Oscar-worthy.

Don't get me wrong--I don't like all kid movies. Nor do I like half of them. There is just as much dreck being produced in the kid market as the adult market. So what this blog will do is give you the kid's perspective on kid movies and the mom's perspective on kid movies with a few grown up movie reviews sprinkled in for good measure when I can tear myself away from the family & work & sit alone in a theater w/my popcorn & Coke Zero.

My movie biases. I love character-driven, well-written comedies & dramas, with a special place in my heart for British comedies. I abhor plotless action movies & movies that are homophobic and/or feature gratuitous violence.

My pledge to our devoted readers is this: I pledge to tell you exactly what I think of a movie--good, bad or otherwise.