Showing posts from July, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

my rating: 3.5 out of 5
Captain America: The First Avenger is an exciting and adequate Captain America origin story. In the 1940s, young Steve Rogers is desperate to join the war effort. He is, however, stricken with asthma (and a whole slew of other ailments) that prevent him from joining. Not to mention, he's like 90 pounds. But, he is resolved to join the war effort. Soon enough, because of persistence, he gets chosen for an experiment in a new breed of super soldier.

There are a few elements of Captain America that have always been inherently goofy. The costume, the whole "yay America" cheese. The giant shield. But, this movie addresses that adequately and makes sense of it. We are shown how Captain America becomes a national symbol when the "higher ups" decide to make him a chorus girl. He runs around the country, performing elaborate musical numbers and wearing tights. Steve Rogers never asked to be the icon of American victory, but it was bestowed upon him…

Hall Pass: now on DVD

my rating: 2 out of 5
Thinking of a hall pass in middle school / high school is not a good memory. It always makes me think of the dirty, smoke-filled public school bathrooms and the strict, overbearing teachers who were afraid to let anyone leave the classroom for five minutes.
In the movie Hall Pass, a "hall pass" is supposed to be a good thing. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis (SNL) are growing restless in their marriages. Their wives, Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer (The Office) are convinced by a psychologist that giving their husbands a week off from marriage to pursue any girls they want (aka - a hall pass) will be good for their marriages. So, the hilarious ensues? Not really. Take a rated R sitcom and mix it with a terrible Saturday Night Live Sketch, and...wah-LA! Hall Pass.
Hall Pass tried desperately to make the characters interesting. But, it resorts to cheap laughs and dirty poo-poo pee-pee jokes to carry it along. None of the characters behave respectably or …

Just Go With It

my rating: 2 out of 5

In this forgettable, run-of-the-mill comedy, Adam Sandler plays a plastic surgeon looking for love. The twist is, he wears a wedding ring and pretends to be married in order to pick up girls. This could be a comedy gold mine, but is a squandered comedic opportunity. Jennifer Anniston plays Sandler's assistant who gets caught up in a layer of lies. He must convince his most recent love interest that Anniston is his soon-to-be ex-wife, so that he can explain away his wedding ring.
This premise could be funny, but the lies stack up very quickly. And, they're so absurd that no reasonable human being would possibly believe a single one. Comedian Nick Swardson plays Sandler's brother, who pretends to be some kind of doctor with a completely fake accent. Who would believe that? It even goes so far as getting them roped into a "fake" trip to Hawaii, which Sandler gets forced to pay for. Why couldn't they come up with another lie to get out of goi…


I have long been fascinated by American Presidents. Many of them experience incredible rises to success and political glory, while others almost fall into it by circumstance. Presidents have an incredible amount of power, and they affect long-term widespread change in the country. We are still affected today in the U.S. by decisions made by Presidents over 200 years ago. Anyone who becomes President instantly becomes a historical figure, for better or worse.

While Hollywood does not have a track record of particularly shining when it comes to dealing with real-life Presidents, there are still some great gems of movies out there. I have compiled a list of my all-time favorite movies about Presidents. I have omitted any movies about fictional Presidents (I guess that would be a different list entirely!) and instead focused on the real deals. These movies are, in my opinion, fair, educational, and entertaining. They are great starting points if you want to study or learn about Presidents…

HP: The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Celebrating the end of an era
my rating: 4.5 out of 5

Last night, at midnight, I experienced the final installment in the Harry Potter series. I say "experienced" rather than "watched", because it was more special than a typical blockbuster movie-going epic. It was a celebration of the end of an era.
I decided to brave the midnight crowds because I have never seen a Potter movie on opening night. I wondered what it might be like to see the fans, getting older now, dressed up in crazy wizard and witch costumes. Certainly, it was extremely crowded and full of energy. The theater I attended had an astounding sixteen simultaneous showings of Deathly Hallows: Part 2 at midnight, all of which were sold out.
I didn't really want to see The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 3D, but it was the only showing that was still available. The 3D seemed like something that would cheapen the experience. However, I'm glad I did, because the 3D glasses are actual round "Harry Potte…

The Pianist

Director Roman Polanski has been doing intense, interesting work for many many years. The first thing he directed was a Polish film in 1962 called Knife In the Water. That was a long time ago, kids.

Since then, Polanski has endured many scandals, in the U.S. and abroad. Sounds like he's probably a scumbag, but who am I to judge? I've never met the guy. But where there's smoke, there's fire, so maybe Polanski is guilty of some of the charges against him. (This is a family blog, so I won't go into detail about his charges.)

Anyhoo, as a fan of obscure horror, I'm ashamed to admit I haven't seen any of Polanski's earlier work. Semi-classics like The Fearless Vampire Killers and Rosemary's Baby helped make him famous. Roman Polanski also seems to gravitate toward making movies out of classic works of literature, such as 1971's Macbeth,Tess in 1979, and Oliver Twist in 2005.

The only two Roman Polanski films I've seen are The Ghost Writer (2010) st…

The Suburbs

There are certain themes that Hollywood continually revisits in movies. One such theme is life in the suburbs. I think it must be because life in the suburbs can be so gloriously happy, or darkly full of secrets. Nearly every genre of movie has been made about the 'burbs. It works great in movies, because you have a very convenient setting, and a built-in set of characters. My favorite movies about the suburbs tend to be comedies, so that says something about me!
Here's a list of my favorite movies about the suburbs:

1. The 'Burbs (1989)

Let's just go ahead and get this one out of the way, shall we? This one is also on my favorites of summer list. It blends the right mix of comedy, tongue-in-cheek horror, and the suburbs. Many people were turned off by this movie, but I say people need to give it a second chance. Stars Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, and Corey Feldman.

2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
This one is a guilty pleasure of mine. Every Ch…

Michael Jackson's This Is It

my rating: 4 out of 5
My relationship to Michael Jackson and his art is very similar to most of the general public. When I was a kid, I remember watching the classic videos on tv. We all know what they are: "Beat It", "Billie Jean", "Thriller", "Bad", and "The Way You Make Me Feel." Going into the 90's, as an elementary and then middle schooler, it was no longer "cool" to admit being a fan. Michael's public persona grew more questionable, and the first accusation against him in the early 90's was a damning judgement against his personal character. The accusation seemed to verify what many mainstream fans instinctively suspected: this weirdo guy with the plastic surgery who owns the zoo/ranch is into kids too much. Even though they settled out of court, it was a destructive turn of events to Michael Jackson's reputation.

There was always an inner conflict with me. I laughed along with any Michael Jackson joke I h…

Cars 2

my rating: 2.5 out of 5

Honestly, I must say I was disappointed with Cars 2. The first Cars, like every other Pixar / Disney movie, is innovative, fun, even as cheesy as being heartwarming. But the second Cars is simply a watered-down, rehashing of former greatness.

This time around, Lightning McQueen is going on a world racing circuit. He decides to take Mater along to experience the adventure. Then, we get world cultures, deception, British spies, chase scenes, etc. Mater takes center stage in Cars 2, as much of the story revolves around his character. The Mater jokes are not nearly as potent in this one as they were in the first one. There are so many new characters introduced, that it may be difficult for some younger kids to understand what's happening.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. "'re a grown adult! This movie is for kids! Don't judge it by an adult standard!" I have heard those criticisms before in my kids' movie reviews. Let me assure…