If I Stay

Release date: August 22, 2014 If I Stay

Live for Love… I’ll take my chances with Arnold.

Upon hearing the premise of If I Stay, I whole heartedly expected Jenifer Garner to be a leading actress. Thankfully I was wrong! So I put away all my comparisons to The Odd Life of Timothy Green I had readied.

This flick follows Moretz as Mia Hall, on her personal journey to choose between death and a drastically altered life after a car accident the entire family is involved in. Mia is the Rory Gilmore to her Lorelai-esque family; only with slower less witty banter. She’s a shy, soft-spoken classical musician while her family is into grunge rock and the likes. Over the course of the film we watch as Mia falls in love with someone just like her family and it’s scary to a 17 year-old.

The plot of If I Stay is simple and charming. While a welcome change from the big summer blockbusters filled with CGI and explosions, the overall “Hallmark” feel of the film is what leads it down the wrong path. The strong messages that family is worth living for, and that family isn’t just blood are hammered home like a golf club to the face.

The weakest point of this movie is the dialogue. I can pardon odd dialogue in a film like Star Wars because it is set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. However If I Stay is set in small-town, USA and shouldn’t have humans speaking in such a manner.

Truth be told, If I Stay is a coming out party for Chloë Grace Moretz. This gal can act! Naturally she impressed the (hopefully washed) masses as Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass, but she just had to kick asses and cuss like a purebred sailor. However, In If I Stay she stretched some muscles I doubt she used in Kick-Ass or Carrie. Also this girl can play music like a boss.

The rest of the cast does a bang up job with nothing of note; except Liana Liberato.  I don’t wanna bash a young lady, but hot damn her line was bad to begin with and she just spat them out. Did director R.J. Cutler just not pay any attention while she was on set?

Something that can’t be ignored is the music and soundtrack of this flick. If I Stay has a great sound that is a treat for your ears. The one downside is Mia’s love interest Adam’s (Jamie Blackley) band. All their songs played during the film sound the same. Same beat, same tone. The only exceptions are Adam’s acoustic melodies.

I would have recommended If I Stay as a fantastic date movie, however many ladies in the cinema groaned at the cheese-factor. That being said this is a solid little movie worth checking out once it gets to streaming later this year.

If I Stay passes inspection.

IIS

Playing For Keeps

Release date: December 7, 2012

This holiday season, what do you really want? The Lego Star Wars Planets: Series 3. I’m not joking.

Just by looking at the theatrical poster of Playing For Keeps I had a feeling I was about to see the standard 21st century romantic comedy. Thankfully I was kind of wrong.

This flick is directed by Gabriele Muccino, who has brought us a slur of Italian flicks and L’Ultimo Bacio, which is the original The Last Kiss which was remade in America in 2006. Already, my prediction was beginning to change. Only a fool doesn’t change his mind every now and again.

Besides being a vehicle for real-life womanizer Gerard Butler, Playing For Keeps stars hollywood heavyweights Jessica “Playing Mommies Now” Biel, Dennis “Vegas Boy” Quaid, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy “Hot Damn” Greer. Joining this rag tag bunch is Noah Lomax who might be cozy with Greer as they’ve played together on the short lived TV show Mad Love.

Playing For Keeps follows Scottish Spartan George Dyer (Butler) as he navigates his life post-soccer stardom as he matures as a person while mending bridges with his ex-wife (Biel) and soccer playing son (Lomax.) He gets caught up as his son’s team’s coach and quickly catches the eye of single soccer-moms and douchey dads alike.

What was unique with Playing For Keeps is that it’s much less of a love story and more a pseudo coming of age story. Dryer must grow up and take responsibility in his life and prove to his son that he’s there for him. Thankfully, the interactions with his son felt much more realistic than those with Biel, making their on-screen time enjoyable. The ending of the film is given away moments past the opening montage, so if you paid any attention at all you had this film ending long before your girlfriend’s first bathroom break.

WHAT WORKED:

– The comedy. For a romantic-comedy, writer Robbie Fox hit the nail on the head of the latter. Well timed and paced this film may not have you slapping your knee like Forgetting Sarah Marshal, but it will keep your date from getting to an awkward place.

– Noah Lomax. This kid is a pretty solid thespian. Legit. It never felt like the director had to whisper some lines into his ear and turn the camera on quickly so he could just repeat them like a Yak Bak, or The Olson twins.

– The random moments with Dryer’s landlord Param played by Iqbal Theba. This guys also plays Abed’s dad on Community. Random and quick. Probably could have been cut entirely from the film and it wouldn’t have changed much motivation wise. But you would have lost a lot of laughs.

– Judy Greer. Hot. Redhead. Kinda bipolar crazy. Yeah…..

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The script. It was bland and meh. Really nothing special. However with the caliber of talent spitting out the hallmark greeting card lines, it as good as it could be: acceptable.

THE LOWDOWN:

Far far from the stage come The Oscars, Playing For Keeps is a surprisingly solid flick. Beware the lactose intolerants, this flick has more cheese than a Montreal Poutine. Luckily, it’s balanced out well by some solid performances and great laughs. If you have a date coming up and want something perfect to keep the mood going, watch Playing For Keeps as it Passes Inspection.

The Perfect Score

Release date: January 30, 2004 The Perfect Score

The S.A.T. is hard to take. It’s even harder to steal. But why is it so tough to do when you have two Avengers on your team!?

Ah, The Perfect Score! A pubescent  version of Ocean’s Eleven? Me thinks so, yes.

Staring Chris “Capt Amuricah” Evans,  Brian Greenberg, Scarlett “On my list” Johansson, Leonardo Nam, Darius Miles and Erika “Big Swim fan” Christensen, The Perfect Score was written by Brian  Robbins (Ready To Rumble.)

This film promised to be The Breakfast Club or Dazed and Confused of the naughties. While borrowing many elements, along with some from Brad and George this film comes up pretty short on the excitement scale.

A rag tag group of high school seniors must work together, even though most of them don’t come from the same backgrounds to cheat a system they feel has been cheating students for decades. Through in some quick edits and some lovely shots of ScarJo and we have ourselves an early 2000’s teen comedy film!

WHAT WORKED:

– ScarJo and Evans. While the writing is subpar and the other actors not really to their level, These two give us a glimpse at the caliber of actors they will become in not to distant a future. Evans is stuck in his usual allround good guy role, but he does it as if he were my best brah. While ScarJo taps into what Barney Stinson has dubbed “Daddy Issues” for her role of Francesca the girl with the webpage. Oh 2004, you make me laugh.

That’s about it….

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The dialogue. Hot damn the dialogue is as bad as reading the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope script with hot potato in your mouth. Unfortunately not everyone was as on their game as Evans and Johansson, so it came across pretty badly.

– The comedy. It really was Ho-Hum for most of it. There was no really OMFGLOL moment. Is that how the kids today say it: OMFGLOL? There’s some stoner comedy that feels really PG and kind of out of place.

– The ending. Everyone learned a valuable lesson without much consequence. Sure one guy got arrested. But he goes on to be an actor. That’s how all Hollywood careers start! C’mon! It feels very Disney… Do they own this too now?

THE LOWDOWN:

This isn’t a long film. Nor is it a long review. For all the flack I give it for being quite simplistic and bland, it’s worth watching for the simple fact that you have Scarlett Johansson on the screen… Oh and a young (doesn’t look much different today) Chris Evans. You get to see the film they were probably forced into at the beginning of their adult careers. While not a knee slapper, it does have a solid pace that makes for a good cheap night-in. The Perfect Score Passes Inspection… only barely.

Mirror Mirror

Release Date: March 30, 2012 Mirror Mirror

Girl “effin” power!

Mirror Mirror almost put Spice World and Disney’s Tangled to a collective cinematic women empowering shame!

Let me start things off by saying, this isn’t going to be movie of the year. It won’t even be movie of the week for me. But this is a good time. Kinda like Pringles or Pogs before your hand got too big for the tube or the late 90’s hit.

Directed by Tarsem Singh, Mirror Mirror stars Julia “Badass” Roberts, Lily “My Daddy Is A Musician” Collens and Arnie “Not Really A Twin” Hammer. This flick is another retelling of the Brothers Grimm story “Snow White.”

This flick starts off in a typical fairytale manner: Evil stepmom, dead dad, locked up, yadda yadda yadda. But quickly shows itself to be the new millennium telling of a fairytale and our damsel in distress ain’t really helpless, as she’s feisty! Any who, Snow, as she’s referred to as in the film gets sent to be eaten by the monster in the woods after her Stepmom, the queen sees her “acting out.” Throw in a loveable spineless assistant and Snow escapes with her life. She later teams up with the awesome 7, (Editor’s Note: Yeah I’m calling them the dwarves awesome because that’s what they are. Deal with it.) to take down the queen, save the kingdom and win over Prince Charming.

What Worked:

– Julia Roberts! Damn this broad has evil spewing out of everywhere! I loved hating her so much that I was cheering her on as the film progressed. She was the narrator and it was splendid. It really let the viewer have more hating time as it advanced the plot.

– The opening animation. I don’t know how to describe it other than the figures are like super shiny porcelain that just makes you trip “balls.”

– The Dwarves! Those LP were totally used well. I read some other guy’s review where he said they came off as “bad” because they used stilts. THEY’RE CRAFTY! In this rendition of “Snow White,” they’re thieves with attitude instead of diamond minors. There are a couple of faces you’ll likely remember if you’ve watched TV in the last 20 years.

– The pacing of this flick. Clocking in at 106 minutes, it isn’t too long nor too short. No time to get bored yet you aren’t rushed either, with the one exception of a musical montage while Snow is training.

What Didn’t Work:

– Lily Collins’ eyebrows! I’m not normally a stickler for looks. Especially hair. Look at me. But as for her eyebrows; anyone remember WWFE Pro-Wrestler Maven? At least just in those steel beams on her forehead Collins has more facial expressions than the next Snow White.

– The chemistry between Collins and Hammer. Can you say toothpaste & orange juice? These guys had about as much chemistry on screen as Matt Mira having abs. (Editor’s Note: I really do like Matt Mira.)

The Lowdown:

This isn’t a bad flick. This isn’t When Harry Met Sally either. But what it is, is a great date movie. Nothing to taxing on the brain, so that blond girl you picked up at the bar last week won’t always be asking you questions. I liken it to Pizza. It isn’t great for you. But damn it tastes good while you’re chumping down. However, for those who are lactose intolerant; much like pizza this film is very cheesy.

You got yourself a date? Go see Mirror Mirror. It passes inspection.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Release Date: February 17, 2012 GRSoV

I. Just. Can’t. Believe. How great. Nick Cage’s. WIlliam Shatner impression. IS.

So this week, I sat down for the latest 3D flick to be pumped into theaters: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance! Boy oh boy was this… something! Although I will have to admit that I was slightly distracted during the third act because the dork sitting behind me kept complaining that he feeling nauseous due to Nick Cage’s forehead the 3D glasses.

GR:SoV is directed by the duo of Neveldine & Taylor, whom have blessed us with other well wrapped sandwiches of crap like: Crank, Chrank: High Voltage, Gamer and Jonah HexSo going in one would expect flashy lights and dim whits.

Being filmed to act like Paris Hilton in Spirit of Vengeance is our boy Nicolas Cage! Ghost Rider is being backed up by the man who I believe should be the next James Bond: The Black Bond IDRIS ELBA , Johnny Whitsorth, Ciaran Hinds, and Italian actress Violante Placido.

This film is head and shoulders above the first. I really felt as though I was seeing what someone would be reading aloud to me from a Ghost Rider comic. Some of the narration shots were worth getting dressed and going out in public to witness.

What Worked:

– The Narrated animated “cut scenes.” That shit was off the hook. You cannot see the hook, that’s how far off the hook they were. They really were splendid and were accented by the 3D.

– The 3D. I am not a fan of 3D. LET ME REPEAT: I AM NOT A FAN OF 3D. But this film is a great example of when a movie is filmed in 3D, the concept can be pulled off in a manner that is enjoyable to most people. (With the exception of the homeless Kramer looking dork behind me.)

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The shaky camera work. When your film is in 3D, people’s eyes are already going to be strained. DON’T wave the camera around like your dancing with glow sticks. Avatar didn’t do that and it made a bajillion dollars.

– The acting. Yes EVERYONE. This flick was really hurt by everyone’s performance. This affected the flow and pacing. This flick clocks in at 95 minutes.  At moments it felt like I was 7 hours into The Aviator.

THE LOWDOWN:

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is… something.  By something I mean is like Two Face from Batman. I mean that it’s a crappy film. But an AMAZING movie in 3D. I’d honestly say this film should be seen in 3D by everyone. Just not at full price. Hit it on cheapy Tuesday, ’cause Ghost Rider is unconfirmed awesome.

Man on a Ledge

release date: January 27, 2011 ledge

Welcome to twenty-twelve! My news years started off with a bang. And by “with a bang,” I mean a poke! Elizabeth Banks with NO BRA alert!

For my first review of the year I sat down for Man on a Ledge. Only the second film directed by Asger Leth, who previously brought us the documentary Ghosts of Cité Soleil. What a thrill ride this film turned out to be. Which was surprising because the opening really felt like a 90’s police thriller.

Man on a Ledge stars a bunch of Hollywood middlemen: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Anthony Mackie, Génesis Rodríguez, Ed (I’m always kickass) Harris, Edward Burns, and Titus Welliver. While no one necessarily shines; they definitely each have their moments throughout this moving picture.

This flick follows Nick Cassidy (Worthington), an ex-cop as he breaks out of jail while at his father’s funeral. He then attempts to keep a city distracted by playing the role of a suicide jumper while trying to clear his name. Banks plays Lydia Anderson, a police negotiator with recent troubles.

What Worked For This Film:

– Elizabeth Banks. This gal is really starting to come into her own. She’s not the same chick that played Paul Rudd‘s gal-pal in Role Models.

– The plot. This film takes some somewhat predictable turns. But that’s alright when it’s done right. I’m looking at you 27 Dresses.

What Didn’t Work For This Film:

– Worthington’s accent. I don’t know what happened here, but american cop sometimes sounded like Chase from House.

– The entire subplot of Suzie Porales (Kyra Sedgwick). We didn’t need the scumbag cable-news journalist popping up every 15 minutes. You could have cut her out and saved 10 minutes of film and had a better product in the end.

The Lowdown:

This is a whopper of a flick. You’ll get some comedy in pretty stressful moments. This is some pretty great writing by Pablo Fenjves. Does it fix Worthington’s accent? Nope. Is this film worth showering and putting on some pants? Yeah, but only if it’s “cheapy” Tuesday, or a matinée showing. But then again I’d pay full price to get my eyes poked out by Elizabeth Banks.