Movie Review: Country Strong

I delayed seeing this film, because the trailer made it look cheesy and ridiculous. On a whim I watched it, and it was shockingly good. The film follows the career of Kelly Canter, a country music superstar, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s been to rehab multiple times, and her husband, James Canter (Tim McGraw), takes her out of rehab early so she can continue her tour. Garrett Hedlund plays her “sponsor,” and he objects to Canter’s early release, partly because she isn’t ready and partly because they’ve been carrying on an affair in rehab, and he doesn’t want her to leave. Canter wants him close, so she tells her husband she wants him as her opening act on tour. Her husband complies, but only if he shares the stage with Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester), a very pretty and talented aspiring country music star. Though I was impressed with all the actors in the film, I was particularly impressed with Tim McGraw, who I couldn’t decide whether to love or hate throughout the entire film. It’s clear much he loves his wife, despite the way he mistreats her.  It’s also clear how much Beau loves his wife, so it’s impossible to predict the end result.  Until the last twenty minutes, I had no idea who the characters would end up with.  It’s the least predictable romantic movie I’ve ever seen.

Movie Review: The Dilemma

A few months ago I wrote a post about how high concept movies are doomed at the box-office.  The Dilemma further confirms my theory.  It’s a story about a man who finds out his best friend’s wife is having an affair, and he’s plagued about what to do.  I don’t need to write anything further about the plot, because the film never survives the concept.  The only funny moment of the entire film was shockingly executed by Channing Tatum, who plays the man that Winona Ryder’s character is sleeping with.  Other than that, you’ve just got two friends, a “dilemma,” and two relatively boring female characters.

Movie Review — Love and Other Drugs

After seeing Anne Hathaway naked for most of this movie, I have two things to say.  First, she needs to stop doing interviews about how she’s unnattractive.  Second, if you’re wondering how to properly execute nudity in a movie without it feeling forced and gratuitous, then go see Love And Other Drugs — because Edward Zwick (the director) pulls it off masterfully.  The movie is about Maggie (Anne Hathaway) and Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), who accidentally fall into a relationship after fighting very hard against it.  Maggie has early onset Parkinson’s, and she’s afraid Jamie will eventually realize he can’t handle it and dump her.  Her solution is to dump him first.  Sounds like most women I know (minus the Parkinson’s).  Jamie is a womanizer whose affection for Maggie starts with sex and ends with love.  This movie survives solely on the insane chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal.  This is their second movie together, and I recommend they become a new, romantic team, much like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.  Good chemistry is hard to come-by, and so are good love stories.  So go see the film.

Morning Glory Movie Review — It’s Glorious!!

Rachel McAdams is so likable in this film, I found myself wondering what Starbucks she frequents so that I can stalk her into a conversation.  Creepy?  The movie follows Becky (McAdams) after she gets fired from her job when her company downsizes.  She then gets hired at DayBreak as an Executive Producer, where she’s responsible for revamping the show to save it from cancellation.  She’s in need of a co-host, and she solicits Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), a hard-news legend who was recently fired from his gig.  Pomeroy protests, but Becky contractually forces him into it.  Ford’s sour attitude makes everyone miserable, including his co-host, played by Diane Keaton.  The banter between Colleen and Pomeroy is so hilarious, I’m secretly curious if their angry exchanges are loosely based on Today’s Kathy Lee Gifford & Hoda Kotb, who many speculate hate each other when the cameras are off.  I’m excited to see Ford in this role, because he’s had some trouble transitioning from his action star status.  The mans a great actor, and he doesn’t need to save the world from destruction in every movie.  I would also like to give the writer (Aline Brosh McKenna) major props for the ending.  I won’t give it away, but let’s just say you won’t see a character running to the airport to keep someone from leaving forever.  Contrary to every other movie on the planet, this ending was a unique spin on a traditional plot point.  Go see it. You’ll love it.

Movie Review — Due Date

This movie was a breath of fresh air, which is a strange statement because Robert Downey, Jr. spent most of the film feeling suffocated by Zach Galifianakis’.  It was light-hearted and funny with just the right amount of gross-out humor.  Galifianakis and Downey drive across the country together after they end up on a no-fly list.  Under no other circumstances would these two men hang out, which is why the film is so great.  Downey is a tightly wound guy who is a bit of prick, and Galifianakis is a sweetheart who likes everyone but is liked by no one.  I don’t think this movie could have survived without these two actors, and it’s worth seeing just for their performance.  Plus, have I mentioned I’m in love with Robert Downey?

Movie Review — Fair Game

No movie should be made based on true events if those events took place less than fifteen years ago.  Having said that, I think you can guess how I felt about Fair Game.  The film is based on the CIA leak of Valerie Plame, and I can’t say I know any more information about the story after watching the film than I did before I watched it.  Now for my next movie rule — Don’t show clips of real-life people during a movie.  If Naomi Watts is playing Valerie Plame, then there should be another actor playing George Bush.  But playing clips of Bush in a movie makes me think I should just stay home and watch C-Span instead.  The entire movie felt like a boring documentary.  Sure Sean Penn is great, but his acting chops alone don’t warrant the insane movie ticket price I paid.

Movie Review: The Town

This is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.  The film follows Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), who heads up a four person bank robbery team. They rob a bank, and MacRay follows one of the hostages after she’s released, to ensure she won’t talk to the FBI. They end up dating, and she has no idea that Affleck is the man responsible for her personal nightmare. He wants to “go straight,” which proves impossible.  His love interest is played by Rebecca Hall, and I’m uncertain that the film would have survived without her performance. She blew me away. As for Affleck, I think this is the first role of his that I’ve really enjoyed since Good Will Hunting. This is actually the third film he’s directed, though the press says it’s his second. Even Affleck admits that he’s so embarrassed by his directing debut, he’d like to forget about it entirely. I think it’s important to admit his learning curve, because directors don’t make movies like this right out of the gate.

Movie Review: You Again

This movie just didn’t work.  The script was such a mess, I found myself in physical pain for most of the film.   Here’s the story in a nutshell: Kristen Bell’s high school bully is marrying her brother, and she wants to stop the wedding.   Apparently, her brother (that she was very close with in high school) never knew that his future wife made his little sister’s life miserable as a teenager, and Bell makes it her mission to let him know.  Sense the script holes already?  The movie is so focused on the brother and his horrible fiance, I’m surprised Bell was even billed as the star of the film, considering she was barely in it.  Though she had her own love interest, the actor who played her crush was a major miscast, and he only had about four lines in the entire film.   The other problem with the film is the heavy stunt-casting.  When you put Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curis, and Betty White,  in a movie as supporting players, you better give them something to say.  Unfortunately, their roles took away from the plot instead of adding to it.  It’s simply impossible to make a movie with 6 sub-plots, and maintain its depth.  You should have a little more trust in the lead.  Oh and one more thing — the movie wasn’t funny.   Almost every scene tried to be funny, and I looked around the theater to notice that no one was laughing.  And I won’t even mention a disgusting scene with Betty White that should have been left on the cutting room floor.

Movie Review: The Switch

I loved this movie, which surprised me considering the reviews are so terrible. Much of these ridiculous critics call the movie “predictable.” Explain to me how you make an unpredictable romantic comedy. Does someone have to die at the end? Because that’s all I can think of, and in that case it’s more of a Greek tragedy than a romantic comedy. Yes, It’s predictable that they will end up together, and the trailer pretty-much gives the entire movie away. None of this bothers me in the slightest. In fact, if I ever go to a romantic comedy that throws me an uninvited curve-ball, I often find myself so infuriated that I want to kill the writer. Remember that horrific ending to My Best Friend’s Wedding? Or how about The Break-Up? The true star of The Switch is Jason Bateman, and everyone else is merely a catalyst for him to show that he’s finally hit his stride as an actor. Jennifer Aniston, whom I usually love, came across as relatively cold, and I found myself biding my time in all of her scenes, waiting for the return of Bateman and Thomas Robinson, his adorable on-screen son.  Robinson’s insane resemblance to Bateman had me wondering who’s responsible for such a genius casting selection.  We all know the plot, so I won’t bore you with the details.  All I will say is that the movie is worth seeing in the theater.

Movie Review: Salt

I saw Salt with my father, who obnoxiously interrupted the film during every action scene, to remind me how unrealistic it is for such a “scrawny woman” to beat up numerous men at one time.  I told him that no one questioned the weaponless Tom Cruise when he beat up four guys in an elevator in Mission Impossible II.  He laughed at the comparison.  I then turned to my mother who confirmed my father’s take in very few words — “it’s a little ridiculous,” she said.  The film was originally written for Tom Cruise, and last minute changes were made to the script when he dropped out.  I imagine that if the script was originally written with Angelina in mind, the ass-kicking would have been kept to a minimum.  Personally,  I find it refreshing to see a woman kicking ass for once.  Plus, close-ups of Angelina are always welcomed.  As far as the plot goes, the story is moderately thin.  Angelina may or may not be a Russian spy that is trying to blow up the world.  It’s a believable guessing game,  because even in real life, I cannot decide if Angelina is a villain.  That made her great for this role.  In the end, it’s enjoyable enough to see on the big screen.  And it’s not a remake — which made me grade on a curve.