Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This Beautiful Fantastic will make you dig in your garden again

Movie Title:  This Beautiful Fantastic

Grade:  B

Rating: PG, 1 hour 32 minutes

In a Nutshell: Garden metaphors about life and friendship grow as this quirky "modern fairy tale" develops in this limited release.  

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Today I’m going to make a difference.” – Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay)
  • Responsibility
  • Friendship
  • Everything that matters takes time.” – Alfie Stephenson (Tom Wilkinson)

Things I liked:
  • I loved the magical score throughout the film.
  • Jessica Brown Findlay does a great job as the odd protagonist who has a Keira Knightly quality about her.
  • The Nazi librarian, her signs, and her garden name (Bramble) were hilarious, played by Anna Chancellor.
  • Andrew Scott was entertaining as Vernon.
  • You’re probably going to want to go outside and work in your garden or create one.
  • Luna was lovely.
  • I loved the last scene.
  • Clever, witty dialogue.

Things I didn’t like:
  • So, the title….ummm
  • As a landlord, I wasn’t amused by Bella’s lack of interest in taking care of the property she was renting.
  • As a former employer, I also wasn’t amused by how Bella was shocked about being fired after showing up late for work every day.
  • Pretty predictable.

Funny lines:
  • “I’m not a religious man, but I believe someone sent her here to test us.” – Alfie
  • “Don’t worry, tea is on its way.” – Milly (Eileen Davies) Such a British thing to say.
  • “Slavery was abolished in 1834, just so you know.” – Vernon (Andrew Scott)
“This country has been going down the drain ever since.” – Alfie
  • “I was just trying to tidy up a bit.” – Bella
“I think that’s what Hitler said about Europe.” – Alfie
  • “I’m speechless.” – Bella
“If only that were true.” – Alfie

Interesting lines:
  • “You should doubt only a man who changes his story.  I only repeat myself in vague hope that one day somebody will actually hear me.” – Alfie
  • “Look!  These monkwoods, so beautiful and poisonous they’ll kill a man.  That’s an interesting contradiction, isn’t it?” – Alfie 

Tips for parents: 
  • Most kids will be pretty bored.
  • Clean language



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Snatched features mother/daughter comedy team for Mother's Day

Movie Title:  Snatched (DVD + DHD)

Grade:  C

Rating: R, 91 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This movie has Amy Schumer in it, so that already tells you it’s going to be super trashy and foul-mouthed.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -  Andre Gide (as quoted by James – Tom Bateman)
  • Parenting
  •  Reflection on your life and how it has meaning.
  • “Waterfalls and rainbows.”   Have an adventure. 

Things I liked:
  • It was wonderful to see award-winning Goldie Hawn return to the big screen after a 15 year break.  Amy Schumer threatened to leave the movie if the studio studio didn't cast Goldie Hawn.  It would have been awesome if Goldie and her daughter, Kate Hudson, could have done this together.  An internet hoax went viral last year, saying she died, but she is very much alive and well! 
  • Stand-up comediennes Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes offered spontaneous "pop-up" shows while they were filming in Honolulu.  The shows were announced in the mornings and sold out in only a few hours.  
  • The movie takes place in Ecuador and Colombia. My twin sister lived there for  1 ½ years, so I was so excited to go there for the first time with her a couple of years ago.  Unfortunately, all of the filming actually took place in Hawaii!
  • All parents over the age of 40 can relate to needing computer help from their kids.
  • James was telling Emily about all of the cool things he has done in his life and Emily said, “Your Instagram must be insane.”  When he revealed that he didn’t even have an account or use social media, she was stunned and asked, “How can anybody see what you do?” He simply stated, “Well, they don’t, but I get to live it.”
  • Ike Barinholtz plays a disfunctional basement dweller and is really funny.  He made me laugh out loud every time he said, "mama, mama."
  • I love Joan Cusack in anything, even when she doesn't say a word.
  • The supporting characters are entertaining.
  • The story features a mother/daughter relationship with all its drama and love, timed perfectly for Mother's Day.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Amy Schumer’s character is such a crude, nasty, skank.
  • The tapeworm scene was disgusting.
  • You see Amy Schumer’s boob. No thank you.
  • Did I laugh?  A few times.  Did I groan in disgust?  Many times.
  • Some of the editing is really choppy.
  • It's extremely predictable.  The plot doesn't really go anywhere (other than Ecuador and Colombia...ha ha).

Funny lines:
  • “Feel free to drink from any puddle you see.  All water in the jungle is safe.” – Roger (Christopher Meloni)  His character was really funny.
  • “How to cheer up a depressed cat” web site.
  • “Help me put the FUN in non-refundable.” – Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer)
  • “That’s nice.  I didn’t know they had a daycare program at the hotel.” – Linda Middleton (Goldie Hawn) when she sees an older man arm in arm with a young woman.
  • “I love that you don’t care about sounding like a weirdo.” – Emily
  • “I’ve read all the Game of Thrones books.  I’ll text you spoilers.” – Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz)
  • “Kill him Mom.  This is a mom thing.” – Emily
  • “Mama!” Jeffrey 

Interesting lines:
  • “You were mine and now you’re not.  And I miss you.” – Goldie   (I can definitely relate to that feeling as a mother whose kids are flying out of the nest.  It’s hard! I miss them!)

Tips for parents: 
  • TONS of profanity and F-bombs.  Some of the music had profanity and F-bombs too.
  • TONS of inappropriate and crude humor.
  • Jeffrey has Agoraphobia, which your kids may not know about, but will easily be able to tell that there’s something off (and funny) about Jeffrey.
  • A man in the State Department flips the bird.
  • A couple of men die in gruesome ways.  But they're bad guys...



Monday, May 15, 2017

Saturday's Warrior makes a comeback

Movie Title:  Saturday's Warrior

Grade:  B-

Rating:   PG, 119 minutes

In a Nutshell:  I first saw this stage musical when I was a little girl.  I LOVED it and immediately began memorizing all of the songs day in and day out.  It was turned into a schmaltzy movie in 1989, so I was excited to see this new remake, directed by Michael Buster. 

I’ve been a huge fan of the talented Lex de Azevedo for many, many years.  He added 3 new songs to this version, which are great, but also removed some from the original fan favorites.   If you're unfamiliar with this story, know going in that it's super cheesy and melodramatic.  If you're a fan of this Mormon legend, feel free to sing along.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Life on earth is going to be difficult.” – Heavenly guide   (Alex Boye)
  • “Truth is truth.” – Mack (Carlton Bluford)
  • “Freedom is knowing who you are.” – Pam
  • “Nothing is impossible.” – Tod (Mason Davis)
  • There is more to this life than what you see. 

Things I liked:
  • I got a kick out of the “There” and “Here” clocks in heaven.  
  • The “Captain Uchtdorf” announcement at the airport made me laugh out loud.  That was awesome and hilarious.  You gotta be LDS to appreciate that one.
  • They did a great job with 70’s costume design and home d├ęcor.
  • A new song was added when Jimmy’s band, “Warrior”, played for Capitol Records. 
  • I liked the new song “There’s Got to be More”.  What a fun addition to include the Piano Guys.  I love those guys.
  • I thought Pam (Anna Daines) was lovely and I'd like to see more of her in other movies.  I felt the same way about the actress/singer who performed in the original stage play and soundtrack.
  • Julie (Monica Moore Smith) has a really beautiful voice, although she over-acted like she was on a big stage.  
  • The ending actually had true emotion, unlike most of the other scenes that felt over-acted.
  • Keep watching as the credits roll to see Jimmy sing his version of “There’s Got to be More” with sweet Emily watching from the side.
  • Mason Davis, who plays Todd, is also an artist, like his character.  All of the artwork you see Todd make was really made by Mason Davis himself.  He looked like a Ken (Barbie) doll to me.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It feels like a stage play.
  • It's super corny with very low production value.
  • The technical dubbing issues were extremely distracting.   
  • You can see what looks like microphone packs on the backs of the performers quite often.
  • Non-Mormons won’t get some of the jokes or even the pre-mortal world scenes.
  • Why is Emily (Abigail Baugh) in a yellow dress in heaven, while everyone else is wearing white?  She sure is adorable.
  • Julie says, “I’m going to miss this beautiful place” while she and Jimmy are standing in a building with old, brick walls.  That line would have been more accurate if they were standing in a beautiful garden or something.
  • There is an odd, unexpected, funny “gay” moment during the family’s concert towards the beginning of the movie.
  • There are a lot of artificially white teeth.
  • What happened to the song “He’s Just A Friend”, “Dear John”, and “Daddy’s Nose”?  Why did they take those songs out of the original?
  • While everyone else looked "normal", Jimmy (Kenny Holland) always looked like he had a ton of make-up on. His boy-band nasal voice started to really grate on me.
  • I recognize I had very high expectations, but I felt a bit disappointed.

Funny lines:
  • “Stake President material for sure.” – Elder Greene (Morgan Gunter)
“Maybe one of my counselors.” – Elder Kestler (Clint Pulver)

Tips for parents: 
  • I counted 3 times that people were slapped.
  • No profanity.  Thanks Mormons!
  • There are a lot of "downer" scenes that make the movie feel pretty heavy.



Saturday, May 13, 2017

King Arthur entertains with quirky editing and humor

Grade:  B+

Rating:  PG-13,

In a Nutshell:  With epic sword fights and a delightful dose of humor, you know a movie is good when you can’t wait to see certain scenes again.  The bouncy storytelling is quirky, unique, often confusing, but definitely entertaining.  

Director Guy Ritchie’s creative editing style keeps it interesting in this new version of the famous King Arthur legendary story.

This is the first installment of what is supposed to be a six film franchise.  Does that excite or worry you?

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Why have enemies when you can have friends?” - King Arthur
  • Defending honor.
  • Friendship, family, loyalty 

Things I liked:
  • Charlie Hunnam gained a ton of weight and muscle to be in this movie, after director Guy Ritchie kept telling him how emaciated he looked after the last season of Sons of Anarchy The Complete Series.  Charlie looks strong and buff now.  Well done, Charlie!
  • Jude Law does a great job as the evil Vortigern who delights in other people's fear and his own power.
  • I loved the special effects.  Wow. I thought the smokey vapors that emanated from the legendary Excaliber sword were super epic     looking.
  • Great sound effects and fun musical soundtrack.
  • The special effects are big, wild, innovative, and wicked cool.
  • Lots of slow-motion scenes, the majority of them with lots of humor and uber-awesome shots.
  • Lots of overhead views of the cities.
  • Tons of super interesting camera angles.
  • The Darklands sequences were super entertaining.  I loved learning how the sword became sealed into the stone originally.  It added great depth to the backstory.
  • Great costume design.  Noticeably good.
  • The movie was shot in England, Scotland, and Wales with some very picturesque scenery.
  • There is a hilarious scene towards the beginning of the movie where Arthur has to explain to Jack about what happened.  It was clever, quick-witted, and set the tone for a fun movie. I loved the funny nicknames he called his friends.
  • Rebel graffiti.  Ha ha 
  • 3D actually enhances the scenes quite a bit, in case you're wondering if you should spring a few extra bucks for it.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There were these cool tree ladies who we only get to see for a split second and who served no purpose other than to look cool.  I wanted to know more about them and see them again.
  • There were a lot of exposition scenes where people have to explain what’s going on.  Sadly, they’re needed.
  • There were some strange, choppy edits.
  • Some of the characters were noticeably less developed than others. 
  • There is a LOT going on in this movie....sometimes, too much.
  • OK, so wait a minute...is Astrid Berges-Frisbey the Mage/Merlin or is going to evolve into Guinevere?  Kind of confusing.

Funny lines:
  • “What is it?  A carosel? A giant wheel of cheese?” – Goosefat Bill (Aidan Gillen) when talking about King Arthur’s famous round table.
  • “I’m not going to hear the end of this.  It was my turn to cook.” – Mage king (Michael Hadley)
  • “I don’t like snakes!” – Arthur
“No one likes snakes!” – Mage

Interesting lines:
  • “When people fear, it is the most intoxicating sensation a man can possess.” –  Vortigern
  • “You make sense of the devil.” – Arthur
  • “You’re no longer a myth.” – Mage
  • “I look away.  We all look away.  But that is the difference between a man and a king.” – Mage

Tips for parents: 
  • Lots of fighting with a massive body count.
  • Some profanity and one F-bomb.
  • Some scary monsters in the Darkland and an evil monster that King Arthur has to fight.  (But it has a super cool looking fire cape!)
  • According to this version of the King Arthur story, he was raised in a brothel.  

 Movie Review Mom


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Max 2: White House Hero is meh

Movie Title:  Max 2: White House Hero

Grade:  C

Rating:  PG, 1 hour 25 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This family-friendly flick is DOGGONE harmless fun for the kids.  It's somewhat of a sequel to the 2015 Max (2015), produced by Warner Brothers and MGM. 

At the end of the movie, you get to see a bunch of cool pictures of U.S. presidents with their dogs.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “There is no reward without risk.” – Alex (Francesca Capaldi)
  • Keep your promises.
  • Obedience, bravery
  • Family, friendship

Things I liked:
  • I love Washington, D.C.  The images of those epic buildings strike patriotism into every American’s heart.
  • Max is a great dog.  When I was growing up, everyone had a German Shepherd.  You just don’t see them as often anymore as family pets.
  • Alex, the little Russian girl played by Francesca Capaldi, is super cute.
  • Beautiful countryside scenes during the river rafting trip.
  • I love twists, even if they’re expected.

Things I didn’t like:
  • None of the original Max cast or crew were involved in this sequel.  That’s pretty unique for a sequel…and weird, right?
  • A lot of the acting is really bad, like....most of it.
  • I have a hard time believing that a child of the president wouldn’t think it was the coolest thing ever.  The First Son does a lot of whining.  It’s pretty hard to believe he’d be sent with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on his first day of public school.  Both seem extremely unlikely.
  • Max only does a few heroic acts; otherwise, he rolls around and gets pet a lot.
  • As is typical for kids’ movies, the children are smarter than all of the adults.
  • Unimaginative dialogue.
  • Older kids and parents might get bored.
  • The script is pretty dumb.

Funny lines:
  • “I hope she looks good in orange.” – TJ Bennett  (Zane Austin)   Parents might need to explain the prison uniform reference to their kids.

Tips for parents: 
  • No profanity whatsoever.  Yay!
  • You might need to explain American-Russian political relations.  The Russian president in the movie is a version of the manly Vladimir Putin.
  • People fall out of a river raft and are caught in peril.
  • The children are disobedient.



Monday, May 8, 2017

Gifted charms in a predictable way

Movie Title:  Gifted 

Grade:  A-

Rating:  PG-13, 101 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This quick-witted film charms and pulls tears out of your eyes.  Directed by Marc Wed (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), takes a look at parenting especially gifted children and trying to find a balance for a happy life.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Love, family, loyalty
  • It’s ok to be a child and not grow up too fast.
  • Even Einstein learned how to ride a bike.

Things I liked:

  • McKenna Grace is fantastic as the brilliant Mary.  She has a bright future in Hollywood, if she wants it.
  • Captain America!  I love Chris Evans in anything.
  • Octavia Spencer is always a sure win.  She was recently in Hidden Figures, a wonderful movie about some other females who are great at math.  Maybe this film can help girls to start thinking more about how cool math is.
  • We heard Jenny Slate's unique voice in Zootopia, but this time we get to see her too.  She's irresistible.
  • The scene in the hospital was really touching.  That was a brilliant idea Frank had.
  • I thought it was adorable seeing Mary sit in a college math class wearing her little Brownie outfit.  I was a Brownie when I was her age.  Um….that’s pretty much where the similarities end.  Ha ha
  • Nice soundtrack.
  • I loved the sunset beach scene where Mary is climbing up Frank, like little kids do, while they have a conversation.  Their relationship is really sweet.
  • This reminded me of Jodie Foster’s old movie Little Man Tate that is also about a child prodigy.  It also has elements of Searching for Bobby Fischer in case you’d like to watch a couple of other movies that have similar themes.
  • Fred.  I thought it was great that they featured a “defective” pet and I got a kick out of all the loving one-eyed cat jokes they made about their beloved cat.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Deadbeat dad.  They make me so furious.
  • I always think it’s weird when kids call their parents by their first names instead of “Mom” or “Dad”.
  • Pretty predictable ending, although there is a little twist I thought was interesting.
  • Evelyn’s character seems a little too one-dimensional.

Funny lines:
  • “I dunno.  Try being a kid.” – Frank (Chris Evans)
  • “If anyone takes that baby away, I’ll smother you in your sleep.” – Roberta (Octavia Spencer)
  • “Fred’s not a killer.  He’s a lover.” – Mary (McKenna Grace)
  • “If we separate our leaders, if we segregate them from people like you and me, you get….Congressmen.” – Frank
  • “I’d kill a priest for a Benadryl.” – Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan)    I can relate.  My allergies this year have been INSANE!
  • “Manufacturers of Legos should all be in jail.” – Frank  (I can relate to that one too.  I stepped on a million Lego pieces while raising my 4 sons.
  • “Frank says I’m not supposed to correct older people.  Nobody likes a smart-ass.” – Mary
  • “I don’t watch TV, but I got hooked on Sponge Bob.” – Mary
  • “Foster people….they can watch Sitcoms with her, take her to Olive Garden, teach her to say ‘irregardless’…”  - Evelyn         I had to laugh at that because I’m such a grammar Nazi.
  • “You drive like an old lady.” – Mary
“It’s Florida.  I’m blending in.” – Frank

Interesting lines:

  • “Never get on the bad side of small-minded people who have a little authority.” – Evelyn
  • “What about Jesus?” – Mary
“Love that guy.  Do what he says.” – Frank
  • “It doesn’t count if it’s not eye to eye.” - Frank, referring to apologies

Tips for parents: 
  • Some profanity, including one F-bomb.  I especially hate it when little kids swear in movies.
  • Pre-marital relations.
  • It’s an interesting look at how parents with gifted children need to balance those gifts and provide appropriate education levels with just being a little kid.
  • There are no explosions or huge action scenes, so some kids may be bored.  It’s one of those “talking” movies, which I love, but it may not keep some kids engaged long enough.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 entertains fans with more silly fun and incredible special effects

Grade:  A

Rating:   PG-13, 137 minutes

In a Nutshell: I loved the first Guardians Of The Galaxy and have been sooo excited to see this next one!

I wasn’t disappointed.  James Gunn's Volume 2 sequel is creative, fun, wacky, action-packed, and extremely entertaining.   

Because it's Volume 2, there are 2 times the action, 2 times the explosions, 2 times the gags and laughs.  One of the planets in the movie was created with a trillion polygons, the biggest special effect ever made to date.  Double wow.  It's also the first film to be shot in 8K (Red Weapon camera system).

As Groot says, “Welcome to the frickin Guardians Of The Galaxy!” (Although he didn’t use the word “frickin”.)

Uplifting theme: 
  • “There are 2 kinds of beings in the universe: those who dance and those who do not.” – Drax (Dave Bautista)
  • “I wanted more.  I desired meaning.” – Ego (Kurt Russell)
  • You need to dance more.
  • Family isn’t always just what you are born into.
  • Friendship, sacrifice
  • “Sometimes the thing that you’re searching for your whole life is right there by your side all along and you don’t even know it.” - Peter Quill/Star-lord (Chris Pratt) 

Things I liked:
  • The opening credits alone were awesome and hilarious.  That’s what I’m talking about!  What a way to start the ride.
  • Groot!  Oh my gosh, he’s soooooo awesome!
  • Chris Pratt sure has come a long way since his flubby days on Parks and Recreation: The Complete Series.   Female fans even get to enjoy his new six-pack abs when he takes his shirt off. He lost 60 pounds for the original movie and has kept in shape ever since.  
  • Kurt Russell!  Nice job on the scenes in the opening of the movie when he was younger.
  • Harpulary Batteries.  Ha ha  We learn so much more about Rocket and his motivations in this one.
  • Sylvester Stallone! 
  • The music soundtrack Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is a lot of fun and plays an important role in the story, like in the first flick.
  • As expected, a lot of slow motion shots.  Hilarious.  Epic.
  • Talk about a sister feud.  Jeez.
  • I love that Marvel always puts Stan Lee in their movies.  He actually shows up twice this time in Volume 2.
  • Really great special effects.
  • The talented cast includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, and Kurt Russell.
  • Taserface.  Ha ha
  • There was actually a lot of character development and backstory information about our heroes and even some of the villains.  It really adds depth to the movie and care even more.  Chris Pratt's own father died and he said that making this movie helped him deal with that trauma better.
  • In the last movie, Kevin Bacon got some funny shout-outs.  This time it's David Hasselhoff.  Ha ha
  • Zune.  300 songs.  Ha ha
  • Keep watching after the credits start to roll at the end and stay seated until the very, very end.  There are quite a few scenes to watch.

Things I didn’t like:
  • A lot of inappropriate jokes.
  • Some of the lines and scenes in the trailer are different from the actual movie.  That always bugs me.
  •  To truly appreciate it, you need to have seen the first Guardians Of The Galaxy.
  • The "gold" people look cool, but I didn't quite get into what they were all about.
  • As much as I enjoyed it, it's still not as good or fresh as the original.  Sequels rarely are, right?

Interesting lines:
  • “All you do is yell at each other.  You’re not friends.” – Nebula (Karen Gillan)
“You’re right.  We’re family.” – Drax
  • “When you’re ugly and someone loves you, you know they love you for who you are.  Beautiful people never know who they can trust.” – Drax  (In the first movie, it took up to 4 hours to apply his make-up, but they got it down to only 90 minutes in the making of the sequel.)

Funny lines:
  • “So, we’re really saving the galaxy again?” – Rocket (Bradley Cooper)
“I guess!” – Peter Quill/Star-Lord
“Awesome!  We’re really going to be able to jack up our prices for 2 times galaxy savers!” – Rocket
  • “Yes, I prefer to make people the old-fashioned way.” – Peter Quill/Star-Lord
  • “I’m sorry.  I’m using the wrong eye again.  That was supposed to be behind your back.” – Rocket after calling the high priestess a douche-bag and then winking.
  • “Don’t call me a raccoon!” – Rocket
“I’m sorry.  I took it too far.  Trash Panda.” – Peter Quill/Star-Lord
  • “Like they say, you’re out of luck until you go duck.” – Howard the Duck (He made a surprise and funny appearance at the very end of the first movie, voiced by Seth Green.) 
  • “Ha ha.  You look like Mary Poppins.” – Peter Quill/Star-Lord
“Is he cool?” – Yondu (Michael Rooker

            (Standee advertisement at my local Regal theater)

Tips for parents:

  • There is a lot of crude humor.
  • Some profanity.
  • Lots of violence.
  • SPOILER ALERT:  You’ll laugh out loud and be able to relate to the teenage Groot at the very end.  Ha ha   Loved it.