Archive for January, 2011

Misher Films, Anonymous Content, Case 39 Productions

Renee Zewllweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Callum Keith Rennie, Adrian Lester, Kerry O’Malley, Cynthia Stevenson, Alexander Conti

Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) is an overworked social worker who is working 38 cases. Her boss drops off another one, the 39th case. Renee goes out to visit the little girl, and it’s clear that the family is very, very weird. The girl won’t talk about it, but Emily figures something is wrong, and she doesn’t want to let it go. After failing to convince her boss that it’s critical to go and help this little girl, Emily decides to do it on her own, and stumbles into a situation where the little girl’s life is in real danger. The girl’s very strange parents are arrested and Lilith (Jodelle Ferland) is saved, and put in a foster care. But she is so stressed and scared that Renee decides to temporarily bring her to her house until they are able to find a permanent home for her. But soon she learns that something is seriously wrong and she’s having a hard time getting to the bottom of what is going on. Pretty soon the two of them are in a very dangerous situation along with anyone who is close to them.

I had the intention of seeing this film in the theater, but never made it. Now that it’s out on DVD I was anxious to see it. It wasn’t what I expected, but I was not disappointed. My wife and I turned out the lights, turned up the sound, and watched the suspense build and build. This is a creepy story. The suspense builds and builds. As I said, I expected a different path for how it was going to turn out, and it went a completely different way. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but it has some really intense scenes. The story is not extremely unique, this has been done before, but the screenplay is very concise and direct and we get there quickly. This gives us enough time for enough for some really spooky scenes. I enjoyed this film, and though it’s not exactly classic or completely memorable, it’s certainly an enjoyable adventure along the way. If you enjoy a suspenseful movies, this is a good one.

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Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, Spyglass Entertainment

Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, Jermain Clement, Stephanie Szostak,  Lacy Punch, Bruce Greenwood, David Williams, Ron Livingston, Larry Wilmore, Kristen Schaal, P.J.Byrne

Dinner For Schmucks is a pretty faithful American remake of the original “le Diner de Cons” French film.  Tim (Paul Rudd) works for a company that buys failing companies and dismantles them for profit.  Not very nice guys, but Tim is a sweetheart.  But he has this bad side that has to do bad things in order to get ahead in business, but he’s not really a cutthroat at heart.  His fiance Julie (Spehanie Szostak) keeps turning him down though when he proposes, but he carries the ring in his pocket at all times.   Tim is due for a promotion and about to move to an executive position when he finds out his bosses hold a dinner once a month and each member has to bring the biggest loser they can find as a guest.  Whomever brings the biggest loser gets some sort of benefits.  In Tim’s case, if he can bring the biggest idiot, he’s in.  Suddenly Barry jumps in front of his car.  He’s trying to protect a dead mouse in the road, as he’s an IRS agent by day, but a taxidermist by night who makes classic art out of stuffed mice.  He’s the perfect idiot for Tim.  However, Barry shows up a day early for the dinner and inserts himself into Tim’s life in a whole number of unwelcome ways.  Trying to help, he messes up just about every aspect of his life in 24 hours. In the end Tim straightens out his life and figures out who the biggest loser really is.

I had the opportunity to watch the original “le Diner de Cons” a couple years ago with my daughter who took 4 years of French in school.   Netflix has the original available on DVD and we watched it and enjoyed the story a lot.  Fortunately this time the American remake was very close to the original movie.  It is a humorous concept, even if it’s quite mean.  The ironic thing is that the movie is trying to teach us it’s wrong to make fun of stupid people while making fun of them itself.  It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure to watch this, as it’s like laughing at “Helen Keller” jokes, but you just have to watch.  And the idiots are true idiots.   I hate to give anything away, as the most fun of the dinner is watching the different men presenting their idiots one by one.  Each one is wackier than the previous one.   There are some side stories that go a bit awry, and if you think Steve Carell’s guy is a bit over the top, then Galifianakis’ has gone way over the moon!  But it’s a pretty unique little movie with an interesting concept.  (If you get invited by your boss to a dinner party though, you better think twice about accepting, as you may be the idiot!).  I think everyone has known a Barry or two in their lives.  My best one was one of the guys in my dorm at college.  But that is another story for another day.   Dinner for Schmucks is just a fun, somewhat dirty, evening watching someone dumber than you.

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DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images

Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Jack Hamm, John Clese, Craig Robinson, Wald Dohrn, Jane Lynch, Lake Bell, Kathy Griffin, Mary Kay Place

At all cost, continue the franchise!!! We get a new look at the origin of Shrek. We all know Shrek saved Fiona and broke the curse turning her into an ogre full time. But what if he didn’t? We see how King and Queen nearly gave away Faraway and how Shrek arrived at the nick of time. But then it flashes forward to the present, and Shrek is tired of his life as a friendly ogre. He wonders what it would be like to go back to when ogre’s were feared and life was simple. Shrek makes a deal to trade one day from his past to live a day as a bad ogre again. Unfortunately it’s a trick and Shrek is caught in an alternate reality where no one knows him, not even Fiona or Donkey, and his family does not exist. Shrek has to win Fiona back again, and try to put things right.

This is a film that didn’t have to be made. However, fans of the Shrek series will like it, and the kids will love it. It does give us some background into the story and it is fun to see the characters we all know again. It also introduces us to one of the most annoying characters ever, Rumple Stiltskin. Rumple is really annoying. He’s trying to make deals with everyone and eventually tricks Shrek into signing away his life. The animation is good. The characters are good. So what’s wrong with this picture? Well, I guess it’s not anything new. We’ve seen it all before many times over. This film is better than the last one, but not great. Rumple was in one of the previous Shrek films, but not this one. This one is completely redesigned and is very bothersome. He’s supposed to be a bad guy, but Shrek can reach out and smash this guy with one hit.

So, my opinion is somewhere in the middle. There’s nothing wrong with Shrek Forever After, it’s just that it’s nothing new. If you’re a Shrek fan, or a Mike Myers or Cameron Diaz (or even Eddie Murphy) fan, ok. Kids will like it. So it’s a harmless cartoon that doesn’t hurt anybody. But don’t expect to be blown away with something you don’t already know.

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Summit Entertainment, Di Bonaventura Pictures, DC Entertainment

Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Brian Cox, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfus

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is retired. He spent his life as a top notch block-ops agent for the CIA, but is trying to live a normal life. He meets a girl on the phone and spends time talking to her, but suddenly Frank is on the hit list and is targeted for termination. He’s force to go back into the fray and find out who is trying to kill him and his new girlfriend (Sarah). Before he knows it, he’s into it up to his eyeballs and there seems to be no one except for a few old friends, Victoria, Joe, Marvin, and Ivan), (Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Brian Cox). If they don’t bring the old band together again for old times sake, none of them may survive in this action, adventure, comedy.

I totally enjoyed this movie. It had a great deal of action, and plenty of guns and ammo, gas, and grenades, bombs and mortar shells! It was really funny and had me laughing out loud a number of times, but the tension was tremendous and the chases and battles were awesome. The less you know going in, the more you will enjoy this movie, so I won’t go into the story, but there are some wonderful characters here. Ernest Borgnine has a small part, and it’s wonderful to see how great he looks. He wants to work so bad, and people should give him the chance. He’s wonderful. Helen Mirren’s character is also very good, and Morgan Freeman is very funny. Malkovich, as you would expect is nuts. This is the kind of role he plays better than anyone, and he’s always right. This is non-stop fun and adventure for nearly two hours, and one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve watched in a long time. Bruce Willis is very redeeming in this role. He does an excellent job playing the tired ex-CIA agent who just wants to be out of it, but can’t seem to get away because his morality always gets in the way. This movie has a lot of shooting and fighting, but is not overly bloody or gory, but still may be a little intense for the under 13 crowd, so take the PG-13 rating seriously, but for a good time just relaxing and watching a funny action flick, this is the best I’ve seen in a long time!

Oh, and RED? (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) and watch for the line—–“Open the pig” It’s worth the wait!

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Crest Animation Production, Lion’s gate Family Entertainment

Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover, Larry Miller, Eric Price, Vicki Lewis, Chris Carmack, Kevin Sussman, Brian Donovan, Christina Ricci

Kate (Hayden Panettiere) is an Alpha wolf. This means she’s destined to marry Garth (Chris Carmack) of the Eastern Pack to unite the packs and bring the wolves together. Humphrey (Justin Long), on the other hand is an Omega. Way on the other end of the social scale, they are not allowed to hang out together. All things are well in Jasper Park in Canada when suddenlyl Kate and Humphrey are captured, tranquilized, and transferred to Idaho and told to repopulate the wolf population. Kate knows she must get home immediately and Humphrey (along with two strange geese) offer to assist. They depart on the long and dangerous journey back to Canada and home in Jasper.

This is a really nice film for kids. It teaches lots of values, and teaches lots of good lessons in tolerance, obedience, loyalty, and kindness among many others. It’s certainly interesting for the kids, but an intelligent enough film not to bore the older folks to tears. It’s funny, and has a lot of interesting calamities along the way. It reminds me a lot of the original Land Before Time where they were trying to make the journey to the safe place. The interesting part is in the journey from Idaho to Jasper. Of course Humphrey gets them into one jam after another. But his heart is in the right place and he’s trying to help Kate as best he can. I highly recommend this for kids and their parents. It’s a really good animated film.

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