Sunday, August 30, 2015

Paper Towns features too many self-absorbed teens

Movie:    Paper Towns

PG-13, 1 hour 49 minutes

Grade:    C for Couldn’t stand the self-absorbed teenage angst  
OR           D for Don't waste your time or money on this

In a Nutshell:    Critics love this coming-of-age movie, but I found the self-centered adolescent drama extremely annoying.

Nat Wolff (whose parents hold the titles of famous writer, director, actor, and musician) plays a nerd who will do anything to be with the girl of his dreams, played by model Cara Delevingne.

Written by John Green, the paper thin characters don’t have the depth that his characters in his book The Fault In Our Stars do.  Read my movie review of Fault in Our Stars here.

On the other hand, teens who long for an epic road trip and are on their own journey to discover who they really are will  probably really like this flick.

Uplifting Theme:
·         Quentin says “I feel my heart beating in my chest.”  Margo explains “That’s how you know you’re having fun.”  
·         Enjoy the moment.  You only get one shot at life, so make every minute count.

Things I liked:
·        The beautiful Cara Delevingne reminds me of a young Merriel Hemmingway.
·         Who doesn’t fantasize about disappearing and having an adventure?
·         I was happy to hear Quentin’s speech at the end about the lessons he had learned about life and the truths he ultimately discovered for himself.  At least there was some growth throughout the nonsense.
-    It was interesting to see the clues Margo left and then watch how Quentin figured them out.

Things I didn’t like:
·         Margo is a total vandal.  Aw, how sweet.  Seriously, I really hated her character. She’s such a terrible role model for your kids who want to see the movie.  I'd be furious if one of my sons chased after such a stupid girl, especially if he ditched high school to do it.  I'm such a mom.
·         Margo says “It’s a paper town.  I mean, look at it: the paper houses, paper streets…and the people too.  I’ve never met anyone who cares about anything that matters.”   - This is such an egotistical, ignorant comment.  If she actually looked in her community, she would find countless examples of people serving one another.  Instead of spending her energy getting revenge on people she considers to be less-than-perfect (as if she is without flaws), she should try serving others and thinking outside herself.  She reveals that she doesn't know who she really is, but she has no forgiveness or patience for others who are trying to figure it out for themselves too.
·         Margo asks Quentin “There’s going to be a time in your life when you ask yourself ‘what do you regret more: removing his eyebrow or not?’”  How stupid.  You know, I have to say that I’ve never regretted my decisions to choose kindness over revenge. 
·         The teenagers in my audience giggled at the disrespectful, rebellious behavior of the teens in the movie. 
·         There’s a totally dumb scene where Lacey (Halston Sage)  sits in a bathtub during a party and invites Quentin to get in with her.  She asks him “what’s the first word you think when you see me? When he responds, “beautiful”, she gets mad and whines that no one ever sees her as smart.  She insists “I’m not a slut.”
·         Margo has a history of running away when her life doesn’t go the way she wants it to.  That’s a horrible defense mechanism.  She also doesn’t consider the feelings of others or the consequences of her actions.  Girls, she may be pretty, but she has terrible qualities that you don’t want to emulate.

Funny lines:
·         “Eyebrows grow back.  Lame is forever.” – the note Margo writes to a guy who did something mean way back when they were in middle school.   Wait a second, isn’t she the lame one for holding a grudge for so long?  I guess she never watched Frozen and learned to "let it go."
·         “Who’s the kid?” – Gus, the security guard
“I’m 6 months older than her.” – Quentin
·         “I’m a big believer in random Capitalization.” – Lacey
·         “Look at us!  We’re ninjas!” – Margo
“I’m not a ninja.” – Quentin
“You are a ninja….just a really awkward ninja.” - Margo

Interesting lines:
·         “Margo loved mysteries so much.  I was thinking, maybe she loved them so much, she became one.” – Quentin
·         “We’re going to right some wrongs.  And then we’re going to wrong some rights.  Basically, this is going to be the best night of your life.” – Margo
·         “We bring the rain and not the scattered showers.” – Margo   (She acts deep, but she is extremely shallow)
·         “Here’s a tip: you’re cute when you’re confident….less when you’re not.” – Margo    (great tip for everyone)
·         “What a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person.” - Quentin

Tips for Parents:
·         One of Quentin's friends is obsessed with Quentin's mom and constantly makes inappropriate jokes about getting together with her.
·         Some profanity.
-     Talk of sex, venereal diseases.  The worst part of that is the teens' flippant, casual attitude about sex, as if there are no consequences.
·         The worst thing about this movie is the behavior and attitudes of the teenagers.  As a mom, I really hated this movie.

Loved the movie?   Here's the book, and another one from the same author:


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Self/Less asks what legacy will you leave

Movie:    Self/less

PG-13, 1 hour 57 minutes

Grade:    B

In a Nutshell:    The talented Ben Kingsley plays a dying real estate tycoon who buys a younger body, that of Ryan Reynolds.  Nice choice.

Critics have been pretty negative about this movie, claiming that it didn’t dig deep enough.  While that may be true, I still enjoyed the ride. I love movie titles that have double meanings and this one gives cause to reflect.  When is someone else's life more important than your own?  What makes you, YOU?

Uplifting Theme:
·         “Every medical advance has a cost.” – Albright
·         What would you do with your life if you could do it over again?
·         Every one of us is going to die.  What will be your legacy?

Things I liked:
·         Fans of Downton Abbey Season 1-3 will be happy to see Michelle Dockery as Claire.
·         Fans of Natalie Martinez will enjoy watching her play Madeline.  I first saw her in the Stephen King thriller Under the Dome: Season 1 .  It held my interest for the first season, but then I moved on.
·         I loved watching the water jet pack sport Ryan Reynolds' character did.  Awesome.  I found a company near my house in Las Vegas that offers classes!  Check out to find locations where you can actually do it!
·         Wow, that New York City view from the older Damien's dining room!
·         It was nice to see a vibrant New Orleans scene.
·         Matthew Goode just a great job as the ice cold handler behind the science.
·         Little Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen is adorable as Anna.

Things I didn’t like:
·         I love Ben Kingsley and think he’s an excellent actor.  I remember the moment when he won an Oscar for Gandhi .  I thought his New York accent was spot on in this movie, but it just didn’t seem to match his look.

Funny lines:
·         “So much for wisdom and experience.” – Martin (Victor Garber)
·         “I understand you’re disappointed.  You thought you were buying a new car, but instead, you got one with a few miles on it.” – Anton (Derek Luke)
·         What’s that?”   Damien
“It’s something to stop your heart.” – medical worker
·         “I have the physical dexterity of a toddler.” -  Young Damien

Interesting lines:
·         “I’m the only one standing between you and oblivion.” – Albright
·         “Just think of all the great minds we lost, simply because their bodies were failing them:  Edison, Einstein, Steve Jobs.  Imagine what he could have accomplished if he had another 50 years left.” - Albright

Tips for Parents:
·         You see Ryan Reynolds shirtless and bedding a LOT of young women in a “I’m young and hot again” montage.
·         1 F-bomb and other profanity.
·         Some car crashes, blood, and fight scenes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Love and Mercy biopic features the tortured life of Beach Boys Brian Wilson

Movie:   Love & Mercy

Rating: PG-13, 2 hours

Grade:    B

In a Nutshell:    Growing up in California, I was required to be a Beach Boys fan.   It was a social law I gladly obeyed.  My dad even bought a Cadillac.  I remember the first time I saw Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys in Concert .  The audience cheered for their love of his music and for him.

This sad, yet triumphant biopic features great music and a painful look into Brian Wilson’s troubled life, Love & Mercy .

Uplifting Theme:
·         Just say no to drugs!
·         It’s truly amazing what our love and mercy can do to transform others.

Things I liked:
·         I adore Paul Giamatti in anything.  He plays a despicable and manipulative therapist with crazy ‘60’s hair.  He said “I have it under control.  I AM the control.”
·         Elizabeth Banks is charming and sweet as Brian’s patient girlfriend.
·         The legendary Brian Wilson is played very well by both Paul Dano and John Cusack, as they reveal Brian during two struggling periods of his life.   I liked going back and forth in time, but I especially liked knowing the triumphant present of Brian Wilson.
·         There are two interesting moments, one at the beginning and one at the end, where the screen goes blank.  Feel the moments.
·         SPOILER ALERT:  I loved watching the real Brian Wilson sing Love & Mercy at the end of the movie.
      Director Bill Pohlad does a great job staying true to Brian's life without taking unnecessary creative license.
Things I didn’t like:
·         Why is genius always so tortured?
·         It broke my heart to see Brian’s abusive father and the cruel treatment of his creative son.  It was interesting to hear Brian talk about his dad.  He said, “He scared me so much I think he scared me into making good songs.”
      It's a bit slow-moving.

Funny lines:
·         “Maybe I’m Cookoo for Coco Puffs!” – Brian Wilson
·         “Hang on to your ego….is this a drug song?” – Chuck Britz  (Mark Linett)

Interesting lines:
·         “How does that work?” – girl in band
“Well, it works in my head.” – Brian Wilson
·         “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” – Brian
·         There was someone.  He was no good.  He broke my heart.” – Melinda
“He shouldn’t have done that.”  - Brian
“Well, I shouldn’t have let him.” – Melinda
·         “I think I might be losing it.” – Brian Wilson
“I don’t blame you.  There’s a lot to lose out there.”  - Carl Wilson

Tips for Parents:
·         Lots of profanity, including 1 F-bomb.
·         Lots of talk and scenes about drugs.  Some of the musicians smoke weed during a work session.
·         Children and some teens will be bored.

Beach Boys music from the movie:

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Vid Angel lets you watch movies the way you want your family to see them

As you know, I LOVE movies.  I love watching them and talking about them!

Over the years, I've tried many different services from companies that offer the ability to bleep out the profanity, violence or sex from scenes you don't want your children to see.  I've never been very impressed with any of them...until NOW!  

I recently discovered Vid Angel.   They have found a great way to help you get rid of the junk you don't want to watch, while keeping the stuff you do.

Here's one of their cute advertisements:

Check them out using this link for a special deal: 

Jenny's Wedding feels like a social issue pamphlet

Movie:    Jenny's Wedding

PG-13, 1 hour 35 minutes

Grade:   C

In a Nutshell:   Timed perfectly for the recent Supreme Court decision that makes same sex marriage legal in the United States, this movie features the lovely Katherine Heigl as a lesbian who finally comes out to her family who struggle with who she is and what she wants.

Uplifting Theme:
·         “When you meet the right person, you go the distance.  And let me tell you about the distance.  Everybody changes.  If you’re with the right person, and they change, you meet the right person all over again.” – Eddie

Things I liked:
·         I liked the music by Brian Byrne.
·         The movie showed the pain and hurt that occur in families on both sides of this delicate issue. 
-     Gossip Girl: The Complete Series fans will be happy to see Alexis Bledel, although it may disturb some of them to see their favorite fast-talking teen kissing another woman. 

Things I didn’t like:
·     What bugs me is that religious people are always represented as idiots and bigots in most movies.  Sure, they definitely exist, but any other lifestyle, except a religious one, seems to always be considered "enlightened" in Hollywood.  A lot of the people in Jenny’s life really struggle with her newly exposed self.   That doesn’t mean they’re bad people or close-minded. The LGBT community demands tolerance, yet doesn't give any to those who have other values.   Jenny’s mom uses an analogy with a dance.  She explains that she likes dances with steps that she knows and that she simply doesn’t know the steps to this new dance that her daughter has introduced to her family. 
·         I thought Jenny’s sister is kind of a jerk.  In fact, I wouldn't particularly want to spend time with most of the characters in this movie.  They all seemed so self-centered and were more concerned with what their neighbors thought than showing love and support to one another.  There is so much anger and selfishness in Jenny’s family.  They all say terrible things to each other and only think of themselves.
·         If this is supposed to be a romantic comedy, it didn’t succeed at either one.
-    Jenny's sister, Anne, says "Happy people don't have dead grass", referring to not settling for things that don't make you happy.  I get that, but I also have a problem with that self-centered philosophy.  I mean, marriage is tough and there will be times when you want to walk away, but what about the "in sickness and health" part of the vow?  What good is getting married if you're just going to walk away when it gets hard?

Interesting lines:
·         “Being private isn’t the same thing as lying.” – Rose
·         “All you can do is what you do.” – Eddie    (I disagree.  We can always try to be better.)
·         “It’s bad to want her to be unhappy.”  - Eddie
“Why would we want her to be unhappy?” – Rose
“Because we are.” - Eddie
·         “If you spend your life lying to people about who you are, you never get to know who they really are.” – Denny

Tips for Parents:
*    There is some profanity and lesbian kissing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation will finish your summer with a bang

PG-13, 2 hours, 12 minutes

Grade:   A-

In a Nutshell:    I can neither approve, nor deny this movie review without approval from the Secretary…

Tom Cruise reminds us again that he is still an action star that can draw us in.  Alec Baldwin’s character says of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise): “Hunt is uniquely trained and highly motivated, a specialist without equal, immune to any counter-measures, there is no secret he cannot extract, no security he cannot breach, no person he cannot become….Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny.”

The movie is pure action, fun, fresh, intelligent and just what you want to watch with some buttery popcorn.  This franchise knows its audience and delivers.

Uplifting Theme:
·         Self-sacrifice, loyalty, friendship, patriotism.

Things I liked:
·          The comic relief role is provided by the loveable Benji (Simon Pegg whose movie Hector and the Search for Happiness inspiring).  He sighs, “IMF.  See the world….on a monitor…in a closet.” 
·         The Turandot opera scene was pretty awesome, using the music to accent the action. 
·         The Mission Impossible theme song is the best.
·         I love that the villain has a high-pitched whiny voice, instead of the deep growl that most villains         have.
·         Aw, those masks.
·         It’s always fun to see Alec Baldwin involved with the CIA.  One of my favorite movies of his is The Hunt for Red October .
·         You know an underwater action sequence is good when it makes you hold your breath.
·         Fun chase scenes and lots of them.

Things I didn’t like:
·         It always cracks me up when spy women in long ball gowns and high heels climb curtains and roof tops with ease.
·         Beautiful woman in a wet bikini, walking slowly out of a swimming pool.  So cliché.  I guess it’s to be expected in a Mission Impossible or James Bond movie.  Rebecca Ferguson is a nice addition to the franchise.

Funny lines:
·         “We’ve never met before, right?”  - Ethan Hunt
·           “She tried to shoot me!” – Benji
       “That doesn’t make her a bad person.” – Ethan
·         “Oh hey boys!  What did I miss?” – Benji
Cool lines:
·         “This man, can you find him?” – William Brandt  (Jeremy Renner)
“I won’t stop until I do.” –Ethan Hunt
·         “You want drama?  Go to the opera.”  - Ethan Hunt
·         “Tell me it’s possible to pull facial recognition off a sketch.” – William Brandt
“For mere mortals, no.  For me, I could have done this at home.” – Luther Strickell (Ving Rhames)

Tips for Parents:
·         Some foul language, but no sex scenes.
-    Lots of flying bullets, suspenseful moments, explosions, fight scenes, and high body count.

Mission Impossible movies that are done well:


Jakob Salvati shines in Little Boy

Movie:    Little Boy [HD]

PG-13, 1 hour 26 minutes

Grade:  B

In a Nutshell:    Mocked by many film critics, Little Boy [HD] is an inspiring story set during World War II about faith.  Christians will be touched, but also left with an uneasy feeling about the ending.  Not everything works out the way we want it to, even if we have enough faith, because God's will is a gigantic part of the faith formula.

People will always look for reasons to excuse away miracles.    As Hashimoto said “It takes courage to believe.” 

Uplifting Theme:
According to the wise priest, this is what you do to make your faith stronger:
1.       Feed the hungry
2.       Shelter the homeless
3.       Visit those in prison
4.       Clothe the naked
5.       Visit the sick
6.       Bury the dead
7.       Befriend your enemy.

·         “Your faith won’t work if you have even the slightest bit of hate in you.” –  Father Oliver
·         “Nothing is more powerful than the will, the will to face one’s fear and to act.” - Hashimoto

Things I liked:
·         I loved the collage sequences where scenes were mixed between the son and the father.
·         Jakob Salvati is adorable and successfully steals your heart.
·         The lovely cast includes Emily Watson, Michael Rapaport, Ben Chaplin, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kevin James, Tom Wilkinson, David Henrie and Ted Levine.
-     The set designs were well done for the period piece.

Things I didn’t like:
·         Yeah, the movie was contrived, but it still made me cry.  Executive Producers Roma Downy and husband Mark Burnett know how to tug at our heartstrings and stretch our faith.
-     It might leave children with unrealistic expectations, as well as confuse them with what is faith and what is magic.
Funny lines:
·         “I finally understood why they don’t let flat feet into the Army.” – Little Boy/narrator
Inspiring lines:
·         “Don’t measure yourself from here to the floor.  Measure yourself from here to the sky.” – Hashimoto

Tips for Parents:
·         Parents may need to explain to their children about Japanese/American relations during World War II and the pejoratives “Jap” , “Yellow Hide”, "Buddha Head", and “Nip”.  Talk with your kids about how hurtful names can be.      Younger viewers may not know that “Little Boy” was the name for the atomic bomb that blasted Hiroshima.
·         There is some violence and bullying.
·         No profanity, but several racial slurs, as mentioned above.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pixels helps you relive your 80's glory days

Movie:    Pixels

PG-13, 1 hour 46 minutes

Grade:  B-

In a Nutshell:  This is a world where Kevin James is President of the United States.   Need I say more?   I have real mixed feelings about this new Adam Sandler action comedy.  While it has many flaws, it DID make me laugh out loud a few times, mostly thanks to Josh Gad and his hilarious comical timing.  

Younger viewers will be mildly entertained, while their parents will get a kick out of 80's nostalgia.  As they say in the movie: “Start your gaming!”

Uplifting Theme:
·     The 80's rocked.
-   Everyone gots da skills in something.
-   We're better when we work together.

Things I liked:
·         The funny-man cast includes Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Jane Krakowski, and Peter Dinklage.  The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring fans will be happy to see Sean Bean.
·     Adam Sandler’s character is a tech nerd, which reminded me of the cute TV show Chuck: Season 1 where the main character works for the “Nerd Herd”.  People are now embracing their inner nerd and it’s considered cool now.  Adam Sandler’s character says “For the record, I’m an amazing kisser.  All of us nerds are.  We appreciate it more.”

·         I grew up in the 80’s, so it was fun revisiting those good old days. There are a LOT of 80’s references that parents might have to explain to their kids, such as:  “Where’s the Beef?”, Sheena Easton, Polaroid cameras, and some of the people who show up as cameos (see my list below).
*  I remember playing most of the games that the movie featured: Donkey Kong, PacMan, Space Invaders, 

 Things I didn’t like:
*   It felt like everyone was acting.
*   The special effects weren't amazing.   Meh.
*   The script could have been stronger with better writing.

Funny lines:
Ludlow has most of the funny lines that made me laugh out loud.  Here are some of them:
·         “It looks like someone sent us the cast of Magic Mike.  Are you going to fight or dance naked?”
·         “I’m on an all protein diet, but I also do carbs.”
·         “You smell so nice, like the book of Genesis.”

Tips for Parents:
·         I have four sons who all love to play video games.  As any good mother does, I scold them when I think they’ve played for too many hours in the day, informing them that they’re wasting their time and that they should be developing more meaningful talents and skills which will help them in their future to get a good job and career.  Little did I know that my second son would actually grow up to be a character artist at Blizzard, one of the biggest video game companies on earth!  He has a great job and absolutely loves what he does.  Check out some of his recent artwork for Blizzard. 

·         Serena Williams
·         Martha Stewart
·         Dan Akroyd
·         Tammy Faye Baker
·         Fantasy Island host and “Tatoo”
·         Hall & Oates
·         Lainie Kazan
·         Matt Frewer as Max Headroom