Morning Glory

Morning GloryMorning_Glory_Poster

Sorry that it has taken me so long to post another review.  Honestly, with Spring right around the corner, it is difficult to find the time – as opposed to finding the time to throw myself into yard work!  However, my wife and I discovered a film that we both had forgotten about.  I remember the trailer for it.  I remember the plot-line and the cast both being interesting, and yet I do not recall it ever having been released in theaters.  Maybe you feel the same way?  Suffice to say, “Morning Glory” was a discovered-by-chance movie for us.

Regardless of how I came by “Morning Glory”, I take issue with the film.  The film is categorized as a Romantic Comedy.  I am here to say that it most certainly is not.  Trust me folks, there is so little romance in this film that such an aspect of the film should have been forgotten about COMPLETELY.  While the storyline is compelling, nothing is worse than expecting one kind of a movie and being given something else.  I have always taken issue with comedies that suddenly decide to be serious, and I feel similarly in regards to this film.  It has to do with a changing your expectations I suppose.

The film does have a good story and it has a powerhouse cast: Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Goldblum, John Pankow, and Patrick Wilson.  Okay, so did I throw you with those last 2 names?  Patrick Wilson I had to really think about; he appears as Night Owl in “the Watchmen ”.  John Pankow was tougher though.  My wife’s stellar memory came into play: you may remember him from the hit TV show “Mad About You ” when he played (wait for it…wait for it…) Ira Buchman!  Seriously though, the cast is incredible.  Sadly, the film fails to do anything with ANY of these actors.  The film spends so much time of Harrison Ford’s character that it fails to do anything with anyone else.  This is a massive misuse of talent, and probably a budget too.  Anyone could have been in the place of these other characters.  All you had to do was pay Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams and you could have done much less with the rest of the cast.

The good storyline is compelling, but not very evocative.  What I mean is that the film does move you.  It doesn’t feel like the Today show, it looks like a sub-standard morning TV show. (I know that’s the idea, but this is dumbed-down so much as to not seem realistic at all.)  However, the “we-are-so-poor-we-can’t-buy-doorknobs” aspect of this was so over-done as to seem utterly cliché.  While I felt for Rachel McAdam’s character in the film, the character itself is given no depth whatsoever.  Truth is, “Morning Glory” doesn’t seem too deep in the thought-out department.  The script is okay, but the entire movie doesn’t have any great punch-lines.  (It does feature some great scenes with a hysterical weather man, though.)

Overall, “Morning Glory” isn’t worth the watch, especially if you are looking for a Romantic Comedy.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart IsWhere_the_heart_is_poster

I know that a lot of people were shocked/stunned/wowed by Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winning performance in “Black Swan”.  I wasn’t one of those people.  Truthfully, there are so many better performances by this actress.  Just to throw out 3 of them which I think trump “Black Swan”, check out Natalie in “Garden State”, “Leon the Professional”, and “Beautiful Girls”.  I thought she was also excellent in “V for Vendetta”, but that could be the story itself talking.  Never the less, Natalie is a fine actress, and I believe the Oscar was over-due.  I had never seen her in “Where the Heart Is” though, and it is another role to add to that list above.  Man, can she play white trailer trash well!  I mean I found this be a stunning transformation and utterly believable.

The story may be a bit hokey, at least at first, but it grew on me quickly.  I was utterly won over to this film by Portman’s portrayal of Novalee Nation.  It’s stunning to see just how well she lived up to the role.  It’s in her voice, her mannerisms, and even how she acts physically.  I thought she really was pregnant at first!  Then I remembered that this film was released in 2000.  I bought it completely.

Where the Heart Is” gives us Ashley Judd as well, in a surprising role.  I say “surprising” because she takes a back seat to Portman.  I found Judd to be very believable too.  She’s not playing some perfect character without flaws; this character’s got plenty.  Judd though is spot-on perfect though as the believable best friend for life, Lexie Coop.  She’s honest and direct, and she could easily be somebody you know.  With the performances of Judd and Portman working together, this film was a delight!

However, it didn’t end there.  Stockard Channing turns in a memorable performance as the how-could-you-forget character of Sister Husband.  The character may be a bit zany and contrived, but Stockard does it so well that you don’t even notice!  Again, a very believable personality.  Add in a small part by the ever-enjoyable Keith David as a Wal-Mart photographer and you can begin to see that the supporting cast is really quite good.  One of the other main characters is Forney Hull, played by James Frain.  Frain is an actor that you may not even remember, but is really quite talented (and this film definitely shows it!).  Compare this role of Forney to his roles in “The Count of Monte Crsito”, “Reindeer Games”, and the vast work he has done on TV (I had no idea- just look him up on IMDB.com.)  Frain is pretty brilliant!

Where the Heart Is” is a compelling tale because the actors and their characters just reel you in.  Once you get even 15 minutes into the film, you find yourself wondering just what Novalee will do.  You find yourself rooting for the characters like Lexie and Forney, and you hope for a happy ending – against all hope.  I found this to be an emotional movie and very rich in both the quality of the acting as well as the directing.  Of course, I didn’t know this at the time of watching the film, but some directors are so obviously talented at their jobs, you just assume they have a veteran-like background.  I didn’t recognize Matt Williams by name, but when you see that man’s resume, you’ll smack yourself in the forehead – just like I did – and say “well, no wonder!”

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

The Accidental Husband

“The Accidental Husband” Accidental_husband

What do you mean you never heard of this movie before?!  I’m just joking.  I never had either.  God bless Netflix and its vast collection of smaller, lesser known films!  That’s how my wife and I found this one.  It’s actually from 2008, and it has some major stars in it including Colin Firth, Uma Thurman, Isabella Rossellini, Sam Shepard, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who looks a LOT like Javier Bardem).  To boot, it was also directed by Griffin Dunne (I have always liked his work, both in front of and behind the camera).

In a strange way, this is a VERY Modern-Day American film.  It is set in New York City (and if you read my review of “Something Borrowed” you know what I am about to say) – because Des Moines just ain’t that interesting!  I loved the setting for this film.  Where else in America can you have such an awesome cross-section of the world’s population?  In the film, you have an Irish-American firefighter named Patrick who lives above his Indian landlord’s restaurant, but he is also incredibly close to the Indian family.  Then there’s the high-class radio personality Emma, who definitely comes from the upper crust of White America, and she is about to marry British book distributor, Richard.  Patrick begins the film engaged to a Latino jewelry store salesperson named Sofia.  During the film, you will also be introduced to Greta & Karl Bollenbecker, a very wealthy German financier of Richard’s company.  All of these different Ethnicities all mingled together make it very modern-day America for me, and I like that!

The film centers on a story about the lengths a man will go to in order to get a Love Doctor (from a radio show) a taste of her own medicine.  The Love Doctor doles out advice on her show about relationships based more on pragmatism rather than emotion.  Inadvertently, she causes Sofia to dump her fiancé Patrick.  Patrick wants to get back at the good doctor, and gets his neighbor’s kid to hack some computer system and legally MARRY her to him.  Let the fun begin!  The bulk of the film revolves around Emma trying to undo this clerical error by having the marriage annulled and having Patrick sign over these papers to her.

It is a Romantic Comedy, and Uma Thurman brings her A-game to the role of Emma.  At 1st, you’ll hate her and her WASP-like ways, but as the story progresses you actually come to understand her more and in the end, you end up liking her.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan stands out as Patrick, a character motivated by revenge in a campy Romantic Comedy kind of way but he quickly evolves into this very likable guy that doesn’t seem to have a dishonest bone in his body.  He of course falls for Emma, and she starts to realize that there is much more to marriage than practicality.  There are a lot of funny moments in “the Accidental Husband” but the real success is that the film has a charm to it (and its low budget) that is lost in a lot of other similar movies.  It looks and feels real, grounded and believable in that ugly coincidental way that only seems to happen in Romantic Comedies.  The best part of these feel-good tales is often how the end and “Accidental Husband” is no different.  Somewhat predictable in its ending, but utterly satisfying.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

Star Dust

StardustStardust_promo_poster

So, here it is: “Stardust“, the film based off of Neil Gaiman‘s book (whom by the way is a terrific storyteller, but moreso in the Graphic Novel arena).

The film stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro and Claire Danes.  Everybody else…well, they are okay.  In fact, Claire was little too old for the part I thought.  She seemed a little too old to be that whining sort of character.  That and she looked WAY older that her co-star, the affable Charlie Cox.  He’s okay. Nothing to write home about.  Claire looks good, but she doesn’t seem to be stretching herself too much with this role.

The other stars though were absolutely TERRIFIC!!!   I can say without hesitation that both Michelle and Bobby D steal this movie!  Bobby D in particular is hysterical!  I can only image that this 2nd time director was sort of in heaven. Like “Hey, Robert DeNiro, here’s the script….uh, just go for it; whatever you do is fine!”  And man was it ever!  Michelle meanwhile looks as though she hasn’t aged a day (granted I have not seen “Hairspray” yet) – ladies, here’s to you gals over 45 that STILL look amazing!!!! (You know who you are!)  And her acting was flawless – witty, sharp, and just absolutely spot-on PERFECT!

The other bonus is that the movie’s story is in a word: romantic.  I love that stuff, and it is so mythical.  A boy falls in love with a star while thinking he wants this other nasty wench.  Yeah, right.  Like Sienna Miller is any comparison to Claire Danes!  Besides, the beauty of this tale is that the message is clear: love changes everything.  And it does!  (I personally can vouch for that one!)

So, if you are in the mood for a sort of “out there” romantic film with a strong element of comedy (I loved the Dead Princes) set in a fantasy world – then check out “Stardust” for a wonderful date movie!

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

 

 

 

 

 

Something Borrowed

Something BorrowedSomething_borrowed_poster

This is a really good movie, and for a lot of different reasons.  The 1st thing I’d like to comment on is the acting.  Yes, I know – I usually comment on it, don’t I?  But isn’t that a major factor in determining the actual quality of a film?  I take one look at this cast and I say “interesting”.  Why?  Mostly, I state that because some of the cast I knew and some I didn’t.  I remember Ginnifer Goodwin from “He’s Just Not That into You” and I remember liking her.  She kind of reminds me of Sara Rue from TV fame of Less Than Perfect (an absolutely AWESOME sitcom BTW).  I know John Krasinski also from TV (The Office) and from yet another very funny  turn in the film “It’s Complicated”.  Now, that alone was reason to take note of this movie.  But I had forgotten that Kate Hudson was in this.  Stop here.  Now, this is part of my review where I turn vicious.  Well…sort of.

Okay, first off, Kate really fills the shoes of this character and she’s positively vile.  I mean, there are times where I just wanted to punch this character in the face kind of vile.  Now, here’s where I get personal.  Kate’s growing older.  Great, I say.  Now, can actresses in Hollywood today just simply AGE?  Come on people!  Enough with the Botox, facial lifts, and extreme dieting.  What am I getting at here?  Kate looks B-A-D.  She looks like she’s lived a hard life and is a woman of maybe 20 years older than she really is.  Is that too critical?  I don’t know.  I like her as an actress and maybe that’s exactly why I am fired up on this issue.  Ladies – and gentlemen too – of Hollywood, please just allow nature to run its course.  You get a ton of makeup and costumes for your roles anyway, so why distort your face to resemble a hard wax copy of yourself?  Why not eat normally and put on some healthy weight?  That skin-and-bones look to Kate Hudson’s arms REALLY bothers me.  This may seem unfair to unload on poor Kate Hudson for this when there are SOOOOOO many “better” examples of what I am talking about here.  It’s just that when I like an actor or actress and they turn to these extremes, it is painful to watch.

Now, on to the good stuff.  John Krasinski is entertaining to watch.  I find his humor refreshing and he has this quirky good guy nerd charm that plays really well in Romantic Comedies.  I wish him even more roles in the future, because I think he’s actually pretty hysterical.  John’s character of Ethan is memorable and likeable right from the start.  I loved his “ducking” of his paramour Claire.  That’s great!  Ginnifer Godwin is great as the lead character, and most of why she works so well is that she looks the part.  I believed her as a law student.  I believed her falling in love and not actually acting on those feelings.  She plays the shy nice girl really well.  If it were not for these two actors, this film could have failed miserably.  As the story plays out, I found myself just wanting to watch these two interact with each other and couldn’t have cared less about the rest of the cast.  Follow this one to where the story reaches London and you will see what I mean.

As for the rest of the cast, I like Steve Howey (from TV hit Reba), but he was kind of wasted talent in this film.  It would have been nice to see more screen time for Steve in this one.  Colin Egglesfield plays Dex, who completely looks the part and is actually a pretty great actor. I didn’t know him at all, so this was really nice.  I found an actor I didn’t know at all that did a pretty great job – so I’ll be looking for his future work.  I also have to say that the character of Claire (played with gusto by Ashley Williams) is a fantastic addition to the film!  The rest of the cast is almost irrelevant.

The story to this film though is tightly wound together and it is that tension of the story that gets you rooting for the underdogs, hating certain characters, turning around to pity them in the next 15 minutes, and then at the end, you feel a sense of reality.  Yep, this film ends in this realistic fashion that makes you happy that you watched it.  It comes at you from all sides it seems.  I was torn between rooting for the film to end one way, but I honestly liked the ending they gave better than the one I was thinking of.

There is a big ugly factor for this film though: a major portion of the film deals with the subject of cheating.  I know there’s the atmosphere of “oh, it’s okay because it’s a movie” here, but honestly I hate that thinking because it’s never okay.  (I must be seriously deranged given the Kardashian-speed-of-divorce mentality that seems rampant these days.)  I don’t think “Something Borrowed” really dodges the question, and in fact it actually shows you what can happen in these situations.  It gets ugly.  So, while there is cheating going on, this film is not actually saying “it’s okay” to cheat nor does it offer anything resembling an endorsement of that behavior.  I believe it does a decent job of showing you how far true love can carry a person, up to and including making some very scary decisions that can DRAMATICALLY change your life.  That’s some pretty heavy material, but I think the film captures it with that subtle blend between Romantic Comedy and being realistic.  And that ain’t easy to do.

There’s a chunk of the film in New York and there’s a chunk of the film set in the Hamptons.  It seems that everybody in the movie is affluent and wealthy and doing pretty good financially.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  It’s a movie – not reality.  It entertained me and that’s fine.  When it comes to criticisms of a film the last thing anyone should fuss over is that “these films” (I guess that’s Romantic Comedies?) always seem to take place in NYC.  Hey, you know what?  Des Moines just isn’t that eye-catching or memorable.  (This is my defense for ALL films set in New York City, and I don’t think there’s a better one.)

Just sit back and get ready to absorb this film, because it reels you right in.  It’s engaging, honest, funny and charming at numerous points, but definitely ending with a superb feel-good-for-the-right-reasons kind of touch.  Well done!  My wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed “Something Borrowed”.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

 

P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love YouPS_I_Love_You_(film)

While “P.S. I Love You” may be billed as a romantic comedy, it is more a drama than anything approaching a comedy.  The premise of the story is this: Hilary Swank is married to Gerard Butler that dies from some form of cancer and leaves his widow a series of letters to help her carry on after he has passed away.  The concept is somewhat inspired, but the film lacks some key elements.  I found the film to be heartwarming in design, but that has more to do with a well-written story than any acting or directing talent.

To begin with, let’s look at the lead actors.  Gerard Butler is being flaunted about as the hot new import these days, something akin to Hugh Jackman when his film career started taking off.  Jackman burst onto the scene with his role in “X-Men” as the ferocious Wolverine.  Butler has burst onto the scene with his breakout hit of “300”.  While Butler has been in numerous other (and highly varied) films both before and after “300”, he will always be remembered for snarling the line “This is SPARTA!”  He was the malformed “Phantom of the Opera” based on Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s famed musical.  He was in “Timeline” based upon a book by sci-fi guru Michael Crichton.  He was the supposed love-interest of Laura Croft in “Laura Croft Tomb Raider: the Cradle of Life”.  Heck, he’s even played Dracula in Wes Craven’s “Dracula 2000” (actually a pretty decent version of the famous tale).  He’s an enjoyable actor, but I think Butler is better suited to the action genre.  I can buy his Irish wit and charm in this film (even though he’s Scottish), that’s easy.  What I can’t buy is him falling for Hilary Swank.

Hilary Swank 1st came to my attention in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.  I thought she was annoying in that film, but hey – who wasn’t?  Worse still, she may be an Oscar winner for “Million Dollar Baby” but if anything that film only stressed what is so obvious to many of us: Hilary just ain’t that pretty.  How on Earth any casting director ever thought that SHE would be a success as a romantic lead is simply beyond my understanding!  She’s got an over-bite to make a horse proud and she’s so thin as to appear nearly anorexic!  All the acting talent in the world isn’t going to overcome those hurdles, especially when the role requires a level of attractiveness.  It is one of the most atrocious casting decisions in recent years and there simply is no other way around it.

The film takes a while to get rolling along.  We all saw the trailer, we all know that Butler ends up dead – let’s get on with the rest of the movie, please.  By the time we are interested in the letters and the sort of mission Butler’s character leaves behind for his widow, the film is nearly half over.  The supporting cast includes an impressive list: Kathy Bates, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, James Marsters, and Harry Connick Jr.  Even this cast doesn’t really elevate this film above mediocrity.

It’s not a horrible movie, but it isn’t a “WOW” kind of a film either.  Everybody’s problems are all nicely tied up in the end, so if you are looking for a feel-good ending then this is the film for you.  Overall though, the romance angle I just don’t buy.  How Butler could end up with Swank is unfathomable.  Bottom line: don’t bother with this film if you agree with me on the estimation of Swank’s attractiveness.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s EveNew_Year's_Eve_Poster

So Gary Marshall has come up with a concept that works pretty well.  He gets an ensemble cast and crafts a story where the sub-plots are all intertwined and they all revolve around a holiday.  He’s already done “Valentine’s Day”, and now he presents us with “New Year’s Eve”.  The nice thing about these “Marshall Holiday Films” (as I have begun to call them) is that – if nothing else – they give us something to watch on these holidays.  The ensemble cast thing reminds me of an Altman film, but that’s fine with me because I love those!  What I don’t like about this one is that he uses Ashton Kutcher as a star again.

Kutcher annoys me.  He looks like a slob in this film.  He needs a bath, a haircut, and a shave.  Call me old-fashioned but I think this kind of appearance makes for a poor impact of a so-called star.  He was decent in “Valentine’s Day”, pretty believable in fact.  However, in “Eve” he plays a nobody.  He could be forgotten about entirely – except for his annoying factor.  The audience is expected to believe that Lea Michele falls for this slob after being stuck in an elevator with him.  Sure…and I also believe unicorns are real.

The best story with “Eve” has to be the Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer story arc.  It’s heart-warming and touching, even if it is not explained why Michele’s character is so repressed and inhibited.  It doesn’t matter though, because it is just fun to watch her and Efron team up.  That was very fun to watch!  There is also a great bit involving Hilary Swank and the Times Square famous ball!  As many of you may recall from my review of “P.S. I Love You”, I am not a very big fan of Hilary.  Here though, she fits the role well and she plays up some comedic talent which was refreshing.

My wife and I found it hard to get past how much older Abigail Breslin in this film, but her role is fairly small.  Speaking of small roles, check out the number of BRIEF cameos in this movie by Alyssa Milano, Matthew Broderick, Jim Belushi, and Cary Elwes.  There all used fantastically!  The story arc of Halle Berry and Robert DeNiro is very heart-warming and touching.  It’s proof that great actors can make a scene in any movie memorable.  On a comedic level, consider the performances of Sofia Vergara and Carla Gugino and realize that these 2 actresses obviously enjoy making fun of themselves!

I thought Josh Duhamel was under-used, and he certainly could have done more with his character.  But hey – at least he was enjoyable to watch unlike Kutcher!  Jessica Biel is in there alongside Seth Meyers as a very pregnant couple for just some funny stuff, but isn’t there always a baby story involving New Year’s?  So, it was to be expected.  Sarah Jessica Parker plays mother to Abigail Breslin, but didn’t quite follow her story, especially the ending.  Watch it to the end and let me know your thoughts: did she really intend on going or not?

Over all, “Eve” is very fun and not too serious.  The arc of DeNiro’s character is a bit heavy but still heart-warming and not heart-wrenching.  A lot of critics bashed this one, but I guess they may have just been in a very negative frame of mind.  It’s been called “sludge”, “auld lang suck”, “the worst film of all time”, and a “sentimental sham”.  Really?  I guess I must be way more forgiving than these critics, because I thought it a fine movie to watch again this NYE.  Besides, it’s filmed in New York City and having just been there (right in Times Square!), I could really feel the city as I watched it.  I look forward to enjoying it again on Dec. 31st!

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

 

Leap Year

Leap YearLeap_year_poster

I’m an Irishman, through and through.  When it comes to films dealing with visits to the Emerald Isle, I can get pretty critical – depending upon the subject matter.  For the record, Romantic Comedies do not fall into my “critical review”.  So, fear not, those of you who love a good Romantic Comedy, I will not bash this film based upon some ethnic reasoning.  If you saw my review for “P.S. I Love You”, you can deduce the nature of my feelings towards Romantic leads.

This I can say for “Leap Year”: the leads had chemistry.  It wasn’t overwhelming and it didn’t seem all that …fresh.  In other words, although I saw chemistry between the 2 leads, I didn’t feel like it was really magical.  I like Amy Adams, and I think she’s a fine actress.  She really won me over with her role in “The Wedding Date” as a very ditzy blonde.  In “Leap Year” though, she doesn’t seem that into it.  Maybe she was tired during the shoot?  Maybe she was sick?  I don’t know what it was, but I sensed a lack of enthusiasm on her behalf for her character.  She was good in it, and she ACTS – which is refreshing for a lot of Romantic Comedies lack that.

Amy Adams plays opposite Matthew Goode, whom I honestly may have recognized, but never knew him as an actor.  He actual IS in another film, which I adored: “the Watchmen”.  (He was Conrad Veidt in that film, and was perfect!)  So, Goode (who is actually English) plays an Irish Innkeeper named Declan in this film and he is pretty convincing.  I like the casting because he isn’t some stereotypical hunky Black Irish lad, all muscles and charm.  He is instead this lanky, slightly offensive lad with an affection for shabby sweaters.  Honestly, it’s the more believable version of an Irishman.

The acting is solid, the scenery is absolutely beautiful (ahem, the Cliffs of Moher!), and the concept is good.  However, the story seems to get a little lost.  The story runs as thus: uptight girl is waiting for her boyfriend of 4 years to ask for her hand and when he doesn’t she embraces an old Irish tradition that says on Leap Year (February 29th) the girl can ask the guy.  The problem is that the guy she wants to ask is in Ireland for some business meeting/conference.  So, she flies over there, runs into bad weather, and has to try to rough it from Dingle Peninsula to Dublin in a short amount of time.  The bulk of the tale follows the 2 leads as they fall for each other as they move through this haphazard adventure to Dublin.

The story is missing a lot of parts that were cut from the film for some reason.  If you rent or buy the DVD, check out those cut scenes after watching the movie and you’ll get exactly why I say this.  You don’t get a lot of the explanation of why she is the way she is.  You don’t understand her relationship with her dad until ONE sentence is said during the film.   You don’t see a whole lot of her relationship with the fellow she seeks to be betrothed to.  And you don’t see enough to understand quite how she feels about the two men and how she arrives at her choice between the two.  Basically, the story lacks a lot of pretty vital points.

So, it is a good-looking film that lets you down with the enthusiasm of the female lead, stuns you with the locations, gives you a pretty good concept, but fails to deliver the depth that the film really needed to make it great.  “Leap Year” isn’t awful, but it is no “Just like Heaven” or “When Harry Met Sally”.  Approach it like that, and you may enjoy the movie a lot more.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

Just Go With It

Just Go With ItJust_Go_with_It_Poster

Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler team up for a Romantic Comedy and the trailer does not do this film HALF its justice!  It’s really rather shocking these days to see a movie where you thought you had it pretty well-figured out and you see it and suddenly you find yourself laughing a LOT more than you thought you would!  That’s what “Just Go with It” is like.

For starters, the casting of Bailee Madison as “Kiki Dee” was great because that little girl had me cracking up every time she opened her mouth!  I had no idea that the script would involve the children as much as it did and they were hilarious in it!  I also LOVED the addition of Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews as hotel guests.  They were pretty over-the-top, which just added to my enjoyment of the film.  They helped made the film even more of a comedy.  And Nick Swardson as “Dolph Lundgren” is AWESOME!

Okay, I wasn’t really thrilled about the character Adam Sandler was playing.  It was like the same character he played in “50 First Dates”.  He starts off as this womanizer that seems addicted to younger women and he never develops a relationship with any of them.  He just uses them for sex and then never gets involved.  Why?  Because he lies and pretends he is married, so he doesn’t have to be in any relationship!  That’s not only sleazy and dishonest, but it’s also incredibly self-degrading.  How would you feel doing that time and time again?  Of course, these women sleeping with a married man are no gems either.

Of course, this is almost irrelevant because he finds “the one.  He gets trapped in a lie and suddenly he has to provide his soon-to-be ex-wife (since he suddenly has found what he thinks is love).  Enter his surgical assistant, played by Aniston.  I thought at first that this character was going to be a dull, un-inspired performance (like “the Bounty Hunter” with Gerard Butler).  As soon as the kids (which are his assistant’s) enter into the picture, this film became so much funnier.  And Aniston delivers a fresh and funny performance that I haven’t seen from her since “Picture Perfect”.  {As a side note: I haven’t seen “Horrible Bosses” yet, but it’s in our queue and I hope she delivers in that one as well.}

If there is a downside to “Just Got With It”, it is without question Brooklyn Decker.  If they had used someone with some real comedic chops, this could have been another over-the-top zany character that would have worked out even better in the film.  As it is, she is just a Barbie Doll.  I was kind of wishing they would have done more with her NSync obsession.  That had real potential.  But alas…the either ran out of time or the writers didn’t care or maybe she just couldn’t act that way.  Who knows?

Sandler’s character never apologizes for his behavior which actually plays out pretty well throughout the film.  It has a predictable ending, but don’t all romantic comedies?  Ultimately though, I haven’t laughed this hard at a romantic comedy in a LONG while.  This is a farcical situation that is just played up to no end with gusto by our leads and the supporting cast just adds to the laughter!  Do yourself a favor and rent this one when you need a good movie to lighten your spirits.  You will not be disappointed!

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

It Could Happen to You

It Could Happen to You”  It_could_happen_to_you_ver2

I know a lot of folks out there don’t seem to care about Nicolas Cage any more.  I also understand that many folks never thought much of him as an actor to begin with.  Regardless, I have always found some appeal to him.  When I first saw “It Could Happen to You”, it was years ago and I only caught the latter half of the film.  Years later, I saw the entire film and thought 2 things at once: Rosie Perez plays a vile woman, and Bridget Fonda is so likeable that it is entirely believable that Nic Cage would fall for her.

This is an older film, but a real treasure.  It is more than a little far-fetched – but I am starting to think that is THE joy of a Romantic Comedy.  This type of genre is meant as pure, feel-good candy and it’s important to take time out of our busy lives to absorb a film of this sort now and again.  You can mock them all you want, but Romantic Comedies are crowd-pleasers and they never go out of style.  I dare say that Romantic Comedies are ranked as the number one genre of movies that are repeatedly watched.

That having been said, take a moment to consider this film.  It stars Nic Cage as a NY cop that lives life honestly and fairly and is committed to his work and the idea of simply being a police officer.  His mean-spirited, ambitious wife is played with zeal by Rosie Perez.  Narrating this tale is none other than the great Isaac Hayes.  Bridget Fonda plays a waitress that married the wrong guy (played by Stanley Tucci) – who steals all her money – and has just filed for Bankruptcy.

The gist of the story is this: Nic Cage buys a lottery ticket and wins, but he promised this waitress a tip when he had no money to tip her so he promises to split the winnings with her.  The real meat of this tale comes from Nic Cage and Bridget Fonda discovering that there are good-hearted people in the world and they run amok in NYC doing good deeds with all their money.  Rosie Perez gets ticked and wants a divorce AND wants ALL the money.  To summarize: she cares nothing for her husband and cares a whole lot about money.  She wants to move out of Queens and he is perfectly content playing stick ball with the neighborhood kids.

So, you ask yourself: are there REALLY people like this in the world?  I think you might be surprised at how many there really are.  If you won $40 MILLION dollars suddenly and were fairly content with your life, what would you do?  Oh sure, you’d buy a new car, pay off your credit cards, take a vacation, and a few other little indulgences, but after that you would still be left with a TON of money.  What would you do?  There’s a lot of good that could be done with that money, and I think a lot of ordinary folks would do some extraordinary things with it.

I think that’s what this film offers: a glimpse at the goodness you could bring into your own life by simply doing good for others.  It’s fun to watch Bridget Fonda rejoice over doing all she can to help others.  Nic Cage is also just very believable as a real life knight in shining armor.  He does so much for others just by being himself.  The courtroom scene is a complete farce, but it is necessary to complete the story.  As unlikely as this story seems, it is also a real joy to see how the tale ends.  There’s a lot of stories about how a city or a town suddenly unites behind a couple or in support of a cause suddenly, particularly concerning NYC.  I can’t help myself, I enjoy them every single time – and this film has a truly great ending.

So, if you missed this far-fetched Romantic romp centered in the Big Apple, you may want to sit back and enjoy a pleasant story wherein good begets good and happiness abounds!

…and that’s it for this edition of the REEL VOICE