Monday, May 2, 2011

Movie Monday: Dates, Nature, Cleaning, Dancing, Ghosts, Missouri Ozarks, and a Deadly Stepfather

Last week was weird for me. For one, I wasn't feeling very well for a couple days. No, I wasn't sick, but the ladies can sympathize with me (which normally I don't have a major issue, so this was not cool with me). As I spent two days basically laying in bed, I decided to put a dent in my "movies I own but have never watched" collection. Yeah, I definitely did that.... FIVE movies (plus two that I caught while flipping channels). Needless to say, my movie geekness was very satisfied! Now, let's move forward with some great movie clips and reviews! :-)

Date Night

Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire Foster (Tina Fey) are a married couple finding themselves in a monotonous rut. In order to get some excitement in their lives (more specifically on their weekly date night), they decide to get out of the suburbs and eat at a trendy new restaurant in New York City. They take someone else's reservation, which seemed slightly wrong but harmless. However, it puts them in the middle of a series of dangerous events involving a stolen flash drive, the mob, and the NYPD.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey make a great fictional couple. I really loved the little things that they did together, like play the "what's their story?" game whenever they go out to dinner. Those little things are what makes each couple unique and what stands out for me. I got a lot of great laughs while watching this movie. The supporting cast (which includes James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Mark Wahlberg) contributed to the hilarity. Although some of the conversation during the chaos did seem a bit on the ridiculous side, I thought the story was well executed. Rating 4 out of 5 stars


DisneyNature presents a documentary (narrated by Pierce Brosnan) about the many wonders of the ocean and it's wildlife... including sharks, whales, sea lions, turtles, and crabs.

I came across this movie when my son was having trouble going to sleep. What I loved about this movie is that he and I were both very entertained (not bad for a documentary). I have a soft spot for seeing baby animals, so when the little sea lions were on screen, I could not resist saying "Aww..." The various crabs were entertaining, and my son and I were close to shouting at the screen when they fought (much like others do when watching pro-wrestling programs). I know this movie made an impact on my son, since he came home from school one day with a library book about sharks. I recommend this movie for any nature lover or someone with children that is looking for something entertaining and educational. Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Sunshine Cleaning

Rose (Amy Adams) is a house cleaner that is in need of a better job to fund tuition for her son to attend a private school. Her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) is tired of holding dead end jobs and wants to do something better with her life. Both of them end up seizing an opportunity that allows them to clean up homes and businesses after crime scenes, eventually creating their business, Sunshine Cleaning.

There are several things that I loved about this movie. For one, the way that Rose and Norah were siblings with different personalities but had a close bond reminded me of my sister and I. Add their father (played by Alan Arkin) and you see a very unique family. As I saw what the sisters had to do to become a legitimate business (and perform their job), I found myself considering a possible career option that would be financially beneficial. I loved how Norah took the job at a personal level when she wanted to find out about the people that lost their lives (and kept "souvenirs" of the deceased). The story was strong and the sub-plots within the movie contributed nicely. Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Dance Flick

In the world of parodies led by the Wayans family, Dance Flick is centrally focused around the plot for Save the Last Dance but also features other dance movies including Hairspray, Step Up, Fame, Flashdance, West Side Story, and Center Stage.

I have come to the realization that PG-13 parody films are utterly disappointing. I was really hoping that this was going to be better than Vampires Suck, especially since the Wayans family was behind it (I was a big fan of Scary Movie and Scary Movie 2). I was right that it was better, but not by much. It had its moments, but not enough for me to rave about the movie. Rating 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Charlie St. Cloud

Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is a young man who has a strong bond with his little brother Sam (Charlie Tahan). He promises to practice pitching with him for an hour every day until he leaves for college. On the day the promise was made, a car accident takes Sam's life and turns Charlie's life upside down. At the funeral, Charlie flees into the woods and finds his brother (in spirit) waiting for him with a baseball and a glove. Over the next five years, Charlie fulfills his promise to Sam but their time together gets threatened when a girl named Tess (Amanda Crew) comes into the picture. Charlie finds himself falling in love but also losing the bonding time with his deceased brother.

I remember watching previews for this movie and thinking "I love the concept and I hope that it will turn out to be good!" Despite hearing poor numbers at the box office, I still showed optimism that this would be a good film.... and it was. To my surprise, this movie takes place in the Pacific Northwest, so that brought a smile to my face. I like how in the first 15 minutes, you see the bond between the brothers and the direction that their lives were headed, until the accident. When the movie moves forward five years, I noticed how isolated he became with his family, friends, and the townsfolk. I loved how Tess brought his ambitions back to his life and made him realize that he has been grieving for so long. I really liked how the movie ended (no, not going to spoil it for you, but there is an unexpected twist that threw me off guard). Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

Winter's Bone

17 year old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in the Missouri Ozarks and takes care of her two younger siblings and depressed mother. When word gets out that her father has gone missing and had put their home up as collateral for his bail for manufacturing and distributing crystal meth, she goes around the county looking for any details about his whereabouts. As she is told by many people to stay out of it, she ignores them and moves forward while putting her life in danger.

This movie was good, and Jennifer Lawrence did deserve her Academy Award nomination, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. A lot of it has to do with my ex husband. He had connections and bonds with people like the ones represented in this movie. I recall a few times where I went with him and his cousin to tiny towns in Kansas (this was when we lived in Fort Scott) and hang out with people like this. It was uncomfortable to me. I respect Ree as she ventured to find her father, despite getting threatened and harmed along the way. I saw that she just wanted her family to be able to live in their home and not have any worries (aside from her mother's depression issues). Even though I wasn't that fond of the movie, I'm still going to recommend others to see it. Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Stepfather

Michael (Penn Badgley) has been away from home while attending military school. Upon his return, he finds his mother (Sela Ward) in a relationship with David Harris (Dylan Walsh), whom has already moved in. As Michael gets to know David, there are rumors circulating in the community. A neighbor notices an episode of America's Most Wanted and points out the similarities between the suspect and David. The neighbor is found dead days later, which prompts Michael to do his own investigation. As he starts to do research, he realizes that David is one step ahead of him and Michael must try to outsmart him to save his family from danger.

What I like about movies like this is that they keep the story simple and let the actions do more of the talking. There are several instances where you see something subtle happen (like a refusal to fill out personal information or get a picture taken) that I caught about David's need to hide his true self. David's unnecessary outburst of anger (like when he grabbed Michael's brother's neck for playing a video game instead of listening to his mother) was an instance foreshadowing his violent behavior. Although this movie was very predictable, the ending left me surprised.... but in a disturbing way. This wasn't the best thriller movie I have seen, but enjoyable. Rating 3 out of 5 stars

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