Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cyn's Summer Movie Guide

...or something like that.

For whatever reason, we've been in that dark place commonly known as a "movie theater" quite a few times in the past few weeks.

Oh, I should mention that children were involved each time -- so actually the aforementioned "whatever reason" is that the movie theatre is the one place that requires my children to be silent for approximately two hours. And that's a lovely thing.

Besides silence, my girls know the only other (figurative) price they have to pay if they want to go to the movies -- they will be required to remain in the theatre until every last credit has scrolled by. This is my firm rule. There are no exceptions.

Of course, the theater lights invariably go up 2/3 of the way through the credits, to reveal that the only ones present are us and the sullen staff/trash-picker-ups. But we stay, no matter what, to the bitter Roman-numeral-year end. I am immune to whining and pleas of "I have to go to the bathroom."

As I said, No Exceptions.

In one sense, it's purely selfish, as I'm always interested in the music and that is last credit-wise. But in other ways it's meant to make them aware of all the people involved in the movie-making process.

Wranglers of the film world, I honor you.

ANYWAY - to the point of this post...

Since you all value my opinion so highly (yeah, um, that's meant to be sarcastic) here are my thoughts about films (in theatre and on DVD) that I've seen in the past few weeks...in the order viewed.

EVAN ALMIGHTY

I didn't care much for the Jim Carrey vehicle Bruce Almighty (even with Morgan Freeman's charming turn as God.) But I love Steve Carell, and my kids evidently loved the Evan Almighty TV trailers.



So, a recent rainy day down-the-shore found us in a small theatre - with few expectations.

And, as often happens when one expects little, we really enjoyed the movie. At least in the context of "Family Film." And it was better than most in that genre.

There were a few truly funny moments, primarily courtesy of Carell and Wanda Sykes.




And Carell plays silly with such sincerity - better than anyone, IMHO.

Oh yeah, and Morgan Freeman is way cool.

Definitely recommend this for those with grade school and older children. (Our group had children from age 5 and up.) It was rated PG...for a bit of bathroom humor (bird poop, anyone?)...and the word "penis" used in a zoological context (said by a kid.)

Would I recommend it for those without children? Yes -- if you like Steve Carell. And the ark effects are awesomely realistic.





THE FANTASTIC 4 - RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER

Another rainy day (only two bad days out of ten, not too shabby!) found us back in the same beach-town theatre. With three girls in tow, we really had wanted to see "Nancy Drew" but the times weren't right. And the kids were hyped to see The Fantastic 4 too.

Unfortunately.

The special effects were nifty, but the acting...? Soap-opera caliber. So much so that I wondered if the actors were specifically directed to be wooden (in some sort of retro-superhero vein.)

Esteemed Husband and I turned to each other mid-movie, as both noticed simultaneously that Jessica Alba's lips seemed about to devour the entire screen. I spent many moments (mind wandering during some cartoonish battle or other) trying to remember what she'd ever done before this (knew her name & visage, but not her resume.)

Nothing came to my mind...nothing to explain why she would be cast as the leading lady in a Major Motion Picture (yes, I know she was in the original F4 movie too) when her acting was rather sub-par. But, as Esteemed Husband offered in way of explanation, she's got a nice body.






Well, yeah, I guess...if you're into that kind of thing (she says, cattily.)

My youngest nephew stayed at the beach house with his mom (thankfully, as this film would have scared the heck out of him, even with its PG rating) and the remaining urchins with us were between ages 7-10. The 7 & 8-year olds were a little frightened by some of the (bloodless) battles - but not too badly.

And not as frightened as the adults were by Jessica Alba's pout.

On the positive side, the special effects were pretty cool. And the plot was easy to follow, so no brain cells were injured in the viewing of the film.

Would I recommend it for those without kids? Hell (I mean, heck) no. Would I recommend this for those with kids? Well, it's better than a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. That's about the kindest I can be.


After dining on this non-award-winning epic, Esteemed Husband and I had to cleanse our movie palate by watching the very adult (as is subject matter, not porno - what dirty minds you have!)film, NOTES ON A SCANDAL.



Wonderful, wonderful acting...engrossing plot...and some thoughts were provoked by the subject matter. It's basically a character study wrapped up in a game of cat and mouse. Two thumbs up!

And speaking of vermin...


RATATOUILLE


Another terrific Brad Bird story. Simply put - it's great family entertainment.



I don't know if I liked it as much as The Incredibles (probably not as many adult laughs in Ratatouille...) but it was sweet and engrossing and truly "feel-good."

During the film I couldn't figure out who was voicing the main rat character, Remy --until my much-beloved credits told me it was Patton Oswald -- and he played the part perfectly.

Would I recommend Ratatouille to those without children? Hmmm...definitely on DVD. Not sure if a grown-up without children needs to rush out to see it or not?




As much as I did like Ratatouille, my favorite kid-friendly movies of the past few months were:

MEET THE ROBINSONS (seen in 3-D!)



...and..

THE LAST MIMSY (which comes out on DVD today.) (And the Mimsy website is pretty cool too...)

Both "...Robinsons" & "...Mimsy..." had a time-traveling theme, which is one of my little preoccupations of late. The visuals on both were just outstanding -- mind-blowing, if you will -- on the big screen.

And both actually choked me up -- yes, me - even with my hardened cynical heart and all. The child actors in The Last Mimsy were quite excellent -- very natural performances.

So -- yes, even for those without kids (as long as you LIKE children) I would recommend catching those two.

Next in the movie queue was the 2002 (you can see we are a bit behind in our DVD viewing...) film "DIRTY PRETTY THINGS"


Another very enjoyable and extremely-well-acted suspense-with-the-hint-a-romance-thrown-in flick, even though I did have to suspend a wee bit of belief to go along with the cause of the plumbing problem in the beginning of the film.

I'm operating on not-enough-sleep right now, not unlike the hero (wonderfully portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor) of this film. So I'll cut to the chase and say "See it!" if you haven't already.

And finally, another DVD recommendation -- V FOR VENDETTA



My brother gave us the DVD for Xmas and we finally got around to watching last weekend.

Now, this is the way to adapt a graphic novel into a movie (as opposed to the very comic-book-esque Fantastic 4 film.)

Even though I'm generally not much into action/fighting -- the plot was quite intriguing...and more than relevant in the current state of the world -- as the anti-hero plots against a government that controls the public with fear and lies.

Not for kids.

But very cool.



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