Tag Archives: comedy

Jack Reacher: Taking it back to the 80’s

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions


Remember the good-old days when 80’s action movies were a barrel of fun and laughs? There were no concerns with winning awards or receiving critical acclaim. Instead, entertainment was the highest priority as is the case with Tom Cruise’s latest investigative action film, Jack Reacher.

Cruise plays a funny, smart-mouthed ex-army cop who comes out of hiding to track down a mass murderer.

Jack Reacher 4All of the 80’s clichés have been thoughtfully checked off by director Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun), who adapted Lee Child’s book, “One Shot”. There’s a wise-cracking detective, a sexy woman, clashing of personalities, a foreign bad guy with a heavy accent, and buckets of action. McQuarrie also was kind enough to keep any gore out of the movie’s action, so those with weak stomachs won’t have to bring their trusty barf bucket.

Jack Reacher 7The recently divorced Tom Cruise gives us nothing we haven’t seen before. Truth is, I love that character and so do you (don’t deny it). The person who deals out the best performance is Joseph Sikora, who made the biggest impact with less than five minutes of screen time.

JACK REACHERFive-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel does an amazing job of lighting every scene to complement McQuarrie’s fantastic shooting style. There’s also some excellent audio design with the sound of firearms having incredible lifelike impact.

Jack Reacher 3Bottom Line: If you enjoy the older action flicks as much as I do, you’ll have a blast with this one.

Grade B-

Runtime: 130 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


The Guilt Trip: Popcorn comedy

Seth Rogen is Andrew Brewster and Barbra Streisand is Joyce Brewster in THE GUILT TRIP. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Seth Rogen is Andrew Brewster and Barbra Streisand is Joyce Brewster in THE GUILT TRIP. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures


Moms have a way of loving you… sometimes too much… sometimes to the point of irritation. No matter how much we would like to move to the Arctic to gain freedom from their perpetual nagging, in the end we always succumb to the truth that they always have our best interests at heart.

The Guilt Trip tells the story of an overbearing, but loving, mother whose son takes her on a cross country road trip while he attempts to sell his revolutionary invention to big retailers.

The Guilt Trip 2The screenplay features a large variety of gags ranging from fun to outright hilarious. The filmmakers removed any cultural references to make this movie accessible to all, which is welcome yet unexpected seeing as the two leading stars are hilarious Jewish actors.

On another note, the story doesn’t reach for anything worth mentioning and follows very basic themes. If the cast wasn’t as good they are, this would have been a very… very bad film.

The Guilt Trip 4Barbara Streisand hasn’t had a leading role since Meet the Focker’s (2004), but she hasn’t lost her stride. Streisand and Seth Rogen have great chemistry as a mother and son duo. Both have great comedic energy and play off of each other quite naturally.

The Guilt Trip 3Basically, it’s the perfect hour and a half escape from your relatives who are bound to tug on your last nerve during the holidays.

Bottom Line: Popcorn comedy de jour. Have some laughs then move onto bigger things.
Grade B-

Runtime: 95 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Monster’s Inc. 3D: Get yourself geared up for the sequel

Catch Monster's Inc. 3D in theatres on December 19, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Catch Monster’s Inc. 3D in theatres on December 19, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


Extrapolating on a classic fear of little children, DisneyPixar’s Monster’s Inc. became the highest grossing computer animated film upon its release in 2001. This holiday season, Disney is giving you the chance to experience this wonderfully original tale in 3D hoping to secure a new audience for the upcoming sequel, Monster’s University.

For the handful of people who have yet to experience it, Monster’s Inc. tells the story of an alternate universe of monsters whose only connection to our world is through the bedroom closets of little children (eeek!).

Monster's Inc. 3The adventure is absolutely hilarious with Billy Crystal and John Goodman starring as best friends who work as a team to get a lost little girl back to her human world.

Since the movie is nothing short of amazing, let’s focus on the 3D conversion…

This year we got a chance to see DisneyPixar’s best three-dimensional animated effort to date with Brave. The depth of image present and sharp animation lent a surreal amount of life to the images on screen.

MONSTERS, INC.With the Monster’s Inc. conversion, it feels more like 2.75D without ever reaching the true effect 3D can offer. Sure you can tell that one character is in front of another and there’s a good amount of depth when the scenes call for it, such as the door storage chase scene. However, the seamless “looking through a window” effect is never fully achieved. Truth be told, it was still great seeing these lovable characters on the big screen again (your toddlers will have a blast with the film).

Monster's Inc. 4Bottom Line: The 3D isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst. Don’t hesitate in checking out one of DisneyPixar’s finest films to date.

 


Click to open and print out these fun activities!

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MI3D_DoorHanger_R

MI3D_Hexaflexagon_REV

MI3D_Maze


Up: Blu Ray Review

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


Finding those complete films that deliver on all accounts is rare these days. When I first watched Up, I laughed, cried and was taken on a rollercoaster ride with the oddly paired old man and his accidental sidekick. As I reviewed the all new Blu Ray release, I was amazed as I relived all these emotions for a second time around. Now that’s a powerful film in my book!

Up 1In DisneyPixar’s Up, Carl Fredricksen deals with his loneliness and a promise to the love of his life by flying his house to the Venezuelan wilderness with the unwelcome assistance of a good-intentioned Boy Scout, Russell.

The team behind this movie provided such incredible depth of character; you see right past their cartoony shells and dive into the soul of a real person. Combine this with a highly entertaining adventure and what you have left is a timeless classic.

Up 3Edward Asner and first time actor Jordan Nagai are perfect together. Director Pete Docter did a fantastic job in getting a very natural performance out of the young Nagai – Not an easy thing to do when working with brand new actor.

Not only will kids love this movie, but as an adult, you’ll be glued to the screen beside the little ones as you watch Carl and Russell’s quest unfold (Just be sure to have a box of tissue handy).

Up 2As far as the Blu Ray release is concerned, this is one of the best. DisneyPixar has included both 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy to future proof you as your home theatre evolves. The video in both the 3D and 2D copies is magnificent. While the 3D copy adds the expected immersion, it is shocking how much depth of image is in the 2D Blu Ray. On top of that, Michael Giacchino’s Academy Award winning original score sounds beautiful alongside the amazing audio design.

There isn’t a single special feature not worth watching in this home release. Included in the vast array of high definition features you’ll find:

• Cine-Explore Commentary

• Adventure Is Out There

• Partly Cloudy

• Dug’s Special Mission

• The Many Endings of Muntz

• Documentaries – A series of behind the scenes featurettes.

• Married Life

• Global Guardian Badge Game

• Up Promo Montage

• Worldwide Trailers

Not only do they include behind the scenes of the making of the film, they also provide a fun educational game for kids (just as much fun for adults).

UPBottom Line: This is how Blu Rays should be done. With a movie this good, why wait to let the fun begin? Pick up your copy today and go on a ride of a lifetime with your wee ones.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A+

Runtime: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Finding Nemo: Blu Ray Review

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


The story of an overprotective father’s desperate search for his lost son captured audiences worldwide like few films ever have. Unhindered perfection is the best way to describe what DisneyPixar produced in 2003 with Finding Nemo. Nine years after grossing over $900 million worldwide in theatres and Oscar Award acclaim, Nemo and Co. received the 3D treatment and is now available on Blu Ray.

Finding Nemo 1For those few of you who haven’t seen the movie, Finding Nemo is the story of a father and son clown fish that are quickly separated and spend the rest of the movie engaging the help of a variety of quirky sea creatures as they attempt to find their way back to one another.

It should go without saying, but for that sole individual who has yet to embark on this incredible journey, this movie is inspiringly original, and features some of the best voice work to date.

Finding Nemo 3Albert Brooks and Ellen Degeneres’ performances are sublime. Degeneres’ portrayal of the memory addled Dori is absolutely hilarious with just the right amount of emotion to provide an unforgettable character.

The all new Blu Ray release is fully loaded to future proof you (from a technology standpoint). Included are 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy, ensuring that you can enjoy the film anywhere. The image quality is great, only topped by the immersive and dynamic audio design/mastering. Finding Nemo 4If you have the equipment to watch the movie in 3D, you’ll definitely enjoy the added depth the third dimension adds to this deep sea adventure. If you don’t, the 2D experience is no slouch, delivering a crisp, clean image.

There are a lot of special features to go through, including:

• Cine-Explore

Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers’ Roundtable

• Reinventing the Submarine Voyage

• A Lesson in Flashbacks

• Deleted Scene

• Knick Knack

• Trailers and Sneak Peeks

• Art Review

• Making Nemo

• Exploring the Reef

• Studio Tour

• Old School

• Deleted Scenes

• Outtakes

• Publicity Pieces

• Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia

• Aquariums

Most of these features combine comedy, educational elements and a good deal of insight into the making of the blockbuster film. My only complaint would be with the lack of a “play all” option, as some of the features are a concise 10 seconds long, but take almost 30 seconds to load. Other than that, fans will have fun going behind the scenes with the cast and crew.

Finding Nemo 2Bottom Line: A must own DisneyPixar adventure that you’ll want to dive into time and time again.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Moonrise Kingdom: Blu Ray Review

Pick up your copy on Oct. 16th. Courtesy of eOne Media


With the Oscars only months away, Moonrise Kingdom, with its quirky and affecting appeal was a solid contender. While the movie is definitely worth watching, the Blu Ray/DVD release could have used some tweaking.

In Wes Anderson’s latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, he collaborates with Roman Coppola to tell the tale of a young couple’s escape from the watchful eyes of their guardians in order to be with one another.

This straight-faced, off-beat film tells its story in a very minimalistic fashion. Instead of being attacked with endless details, Wes Anderson and co-writer Roman Coppola unassumingly ask the audience to decipher this decidedly interpretive story.

Every member of the cast brought their A-game, delivering performances both eccentric and memorable. The young first-time actors playing the love-struck couple, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both displayed a very natural, youthful innocence.

Despite all of its romantic naïveté, Moonrise Kingdom is not a perfect film. Firstly, Wes Anderson clearly neglected necessary (some might say obvious) emotional reactions from the actors, both young and old, which will certainly alienate a large demographic of movie goers. There’s also the lack of enunciation from both Hayward and Gilman; something Anderson should have caught during the shooting process as it was difficult to understand the youngsters during multiple scenes.

For the Blu Ray + DVD release, the audio mastering is perfect. However, Anderson’s choice to shoot the movie with 16mm film, rather than 35mm film, has left the high definition transfer looking like a decent DVD – not a stunning Blu Ray. The special features are also very limited to what boils down to faux “behind the scenes” advertisements for the film. Not what this fan of the film was expecting.

Make no mistake, this is a very good film, it simply is not Oscar winner worthy.

Bottom Line: This Blu Ray is only worth owning if you like the film.

Grade A

Runtime: 94 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Moonrise Kingdom: Trivia and Insights


With the Blu Ray + DVD release of the brilliant Oscar Award contender Moonrise Kingdom due on Oct. 16th, I’ve decided to compile some fun trivia and insight from the cast and crew. Enjoy!

 
 


During filming, Wes Anderson rented an old mansion in Newport, Rhode Island for himself, editor Andrew Weisblum, and director of cinematography Robert D. Yeoman, in which they had a room set up for editing the film. It had been arranged for the cast to stay in a nearby hotel, but eventually some of the actors also decided to stay at the mansion, including Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. Murray later joked that the theory was to have everyone close by so that they could all work “ungodly art-movie hours.”
Sounds like fun to me!

Fun Fact about Wes Anderson: When asked where audiences would find the next Martin Scorsese, he said to look to Wes Anderson, the young director of Rushmore (1998).
I would cry like a big bald baby if Scorsese said that about me!

The filmmakers wanted the physical production to be focused, not bloated. Accordingly, there were no big trucks, and no actor or filmmaker trailers. Actors were encouraged to arrive camera-ready, requiring them to don their costumes in their hotel rooms before coming to set.
Nice to hear that greatness can be achieved at humbler budgets.

Bill Murray remembers, “My first day at work was on a camp set, and I realized that they didn’t have trailers and so forth. We had tents, pup tents. It was about 40 degrees outside and raining, but once you get 51 people crammed inside a tent, it gets plenty warm. We were cozy after a while.”
That must have been a giant tent to house that many people.

“The director, Wes (Anderson), he wears his pants very short. So he likes everyone in the film to wear them really short. Just a little bit like the kind of person you’d want to mug.”
– Bill Murray
Yes sir, the men all look ready for a flood in this movie.

You can find Bill Murray’s real son in the film as one of the scouts in a Native Indian feathered headdress.
Easier to spot in the special features where they point him out to you.

After an initial audition and three more call-backs over the course of six months, young star Jared Gilman remembers, “I was getting in the car with my mom on the way home from school, and I asked her if she had any news. She didn’t answer; she called up my father instead, and he pulled a Ryan Seacrest [/American Idol results buildup] on me, before he told me I got the part. I screamed, I laughed, and I cried. It was probably the happiest day of my life.”
That’s mean… I love it!

Before filming, neither Kara Hayward nor Jared Gilman had ever seen a typewriter in person. Hayward later said, “Fran (Frances McDormand) had a lot of fun with that. She couldn’t believe it. She showed me that the keys are in the same place as now (on computers).”
This, sadly, is probably the case for most every child in their generation.

As homework for his character, Wes Anderson assigned Jared Gilman to watch Escape from Alcatraz (set in 1963), starring Clint Eastwood.
Proper education.

The film opened in only four theaters, two in New York and two in Los Angeles, but earned $167,250 per screen, the all-time record for highest per-theater box office average of a non-animated film.

You’ll find the Moonrise Kingdom Blu Ray + DVD online and in stores on October 16, 2012.

Bill Murray’s overview of the movie:


All information was taken from eOne’s press notes and IMDB.com


The Great Mouse Detective: Blu Ray Review

The Great Mouse Detective is available on Blu Ray + DVD on Oct. 9, 2012. Courtesy of Disney Films


Between 1958-1982, Eve Titus parodied the greatest fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, into a mouse named Basil Rathbone for a series of children novels. His success in making the adult detective series accessible to youngsters led to Disney’s adaptation The Great Mouse Detective.

In this rodent based adaptation, Basil and Dr. Dawson (a parody of Dr. Watson) track down the notorious Professor Ratigan in order to prevent him from committing a heinous crime against the Royalty of Victorian England.

What’s really astonishing about this film is how they’ve retained the original character traits of the base characters, while adding whimsical nuances to entertain younger generations. Disney did a fantastic job of allowing the sophisticated detective genius from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work to shine through, all the while interweaving a daring adventure for younger audiences.

Twenty-six years after its theatrical release, Disney has completely restored both the original film and its audio track for the Blu Ray + DVD release. On top of that, they’ve included some special features worth checking out. “So You Think You Can Sleuth” is entertaining and educational to both children and adults. This featurette looks at the history of crime solvers and provides a lighthearted wrongdoing for the audience to take a stab at solving. There’s also The Making Of The Great Mouse Detective and “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” Sing-A-Long Song.

Bottom Line: This mousy mystery is timeless and definitely worth owning on Blu Ray.

Movie Grade A-
Blu Ray Grade A-

Runtime: 74 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


People Like Us: Blu Ray Review

Find the dramatic comedy People Like Us in stores on Oct. 2nd, 2012. Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures


How many perfect families are there? The honesty presented in a film like People Like Us gives us a glimpse into the dysfunctions that plague a modern family, all the while, keeping us readily entertained.

In People Like Us, we follow a struggling salesman, Sam (Chris Pine), as he deals with reconciling with his family after his neglectful father’s passing. When settling his estate, Sam discovers a half-sister and his dad’s secret life.

Witty, truthful, and heartfelt all describe this drama. From the guys who wrote Transformers and Star Trek (2009), both Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci find a completely different angle in which to tell a story. Both writers, with the aid of Jody Lambert, piece together a multitude of character studies in this tightly knit film.

Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde and Michael Hall D’Addario deliver true to life dramatic and comedic performances. It’s one of the truest example of genuine acting I’ve seen in a long while.

The Blu Ray + DVD release features a decent set of special features to accompany the fantastic film. They include a behind the scenes look at how the story came to be and the production footage in Number One With A Bullet: The Story Behind People Like Us. There’s also Taco Talk, which gives you Chris Pine’s and Elizabeth Banks’ complete improvisational and hilarious scene at the taco stand. Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel and Audio Commentary are also included.

Bottom Line: Come for the comedy, stay for the heart. Well worth owning.

Movie Grade A
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtime: 113 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1


Pitch Perfect: Funny never sounded so harmonious

(L to R) Denise (WANETAH WALMSLEY), Ashley (SHELLY REGNER), Cynthia Rose (ESTER DEAN), Fat Amy (REBEL WILSON), Stacie (ALEXIS KNAPP), Beca (ANNA KENDRICK), Chloe (BRITTANY SNOW), Lilly (HANA MAE LEE) and Jessica (KELLEY ALICE JAKLE) in ‘Pitch Perfect’. Courtesy of Universal Pictures


Let’s face it, “teeny bopper” films usually suck! Pitch Perfect looks like your run-of-the-mill, musically driven movie that only young teenage girls and hormone driven boys would enjoy. That is like soooo totally wrong.

Pitch Perfect tells the hilarious story of a rebellious freshman, Beca (Anna Kendrick), who reluctantly joins an all-girl a cappella group trying to win the college a cappella championships.

There is not a five minute gap to be found without a solid laugh in this mix musical/sports comedy. It all stems from the fantastic writing, direction and whimsical comedic performances by the cast.

Kay Cannon’s script is harmoniously transferred to the big screen by first time feature film director Jason Moore. Both managed to provide substance and originality to a thoroughly trodden story.

What really makes the movie shine are the side-splittingly funny performances from the cast. Nobody gets higher praise for this than Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy); the husky girl, with a powerful voice, who freely voices her opinions.

There is also much to be said about the selection and use of the music chosen for the movie. With hits ranging from the 80’s to present day, there’s something in here for everyone to jive with. Also to be appreciated is the lack of unnecessary spectacle common in most musicals.

Bottom Line: Female or male, young or old, singer or window breaker, this movie has an abundance of fun for everyone.

Grade A-

Runtime: 112 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No