Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Breakfast Club Remake?

Before Mamma Mia, this commercial played.

Marla, Darlene, and I were appalled. Since we had missed seeing the website at the beginning of the ad, it looked to us like a remake of The Breakfast Club.


"They had BETTER not be re-making The Breakfast Club!!?"

At the end of the commercial, we all sighed in relief to note that this was merely a commercial for J.C. Penney.

But it wouldn't be beyond the scope of imagination to predict a remake of the classic John Hughes 80's film. They remade WarGames, after all. And just about every 70's or 80's popular TV show, toy, or movie is either being remade or followed up with a sequel. (Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lost Boys, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, The Smurfs, to mention only a few off the top of my head...)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Game Plan (2007)

I figured The Game Plan would be just another run-of-the-mill Disney flick, but I was pleasantly surprised. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays a self-absorbed quarterback who is confronted with a young daughter he didn't know he had. The film plays out fairly predictably - big tough guy learning to like ballet, obligatory messy kitchen scene, last minute sports comeback - but it all works together in quite a satisfying way. Very family friendly. All of my kids, from age 6 to 13 were engaged with this movie from the beginning. My sensitive 11 year old was in tears at one point and laughing hysterically at many others. I recommend it for families with kids of all ages.

The Game Plan -
The Game Plan -

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mamma Mia (2008)

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much Ive missed you...

What could be more fun than a chick flick?

How about a musical chick flick? How about a chick flick set on a gorgeous Greek island? How about a chick flick with Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth SINGING, along with numerous attractive younger men?

How about that same film along with two of your most fun-loving friends?

Now you've got the picture! This is how I spent my afternoon today - watching the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Mamma Mia!

Sophie is getting married and she doesn't know who her father is, but she wants him to walk her down the aisle. She reads her mom's diary and realizes that there are three possibilities for her paternity. (Yes, this could lead to some interesting discussions with kids.) She invites all three men to her wedding on the remote Greek island where her mother runs a small hotel. Hilarity, misunderstanding, and surprising sweetness ensue.

If your intent is to watch a serious drama, this is not your show! Be prepared for a somewhat silly movie musical filled with music from the 1970's group ABBA. Characters break out in dance routines at the first sound of a song! So, if you can suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself into an ABBA-infused Greek island for a couple of hours, this is your movie!

Meryl Streep plays Sophie's mother Donna, and, yes, in a departure from her usual dramatic roles, she sings and dances and is quite funny and always engaging! The three possible fathers are played with aplomb by Pierce Brosnan (James Bond, Remington Steele), Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy!), and Stellan Skarsgard (Pirates of the Caribbean).

The sound system in the theatre was not effective and I found it difficult to hear the solo singing tracks, although the music came through fine. I have heard much criticism of Brosnan's singing, but it seemed fine to me. I wasn't expecting Michael Buble' or Josh Groban, though, so my expectations were low to start with.

I enjoyed all of the music, although I only recognized about one third of the songs. ABBA was never my favorite group - I was not into popular music during their heydey although I think Take a Chance on Me was the first pop song I ever learned. That was in about 1979. But who can resist Dancing Queen, S.O.S., or The Winner Takes It All?

The island setting was lovely. I want to live there! The night scenes were especially entrancing. The colors of the costumes were designed to stand out. We especially got a kick out of the platform boots and ruffly sparkly 1970's costumes! And we all wanted Sophie's hair!

What about the story? Since many people reading this will be concerned about the morality of the plot, I will reassure you that the paternity issue is handled in the best possible way. Donna is not proud of her actions during the summer of Sophie's conception, but neither does she lie about the issue when confronted. (Apparently up until now, she has been silent on the issue of Sophie's paternity.) This is definitely PG-13 material, but no embarrassing sex scenes are included. Some risque talk and dance moves are present. Several characters drink wine and margaritas. A storyline including a homosexual character is also revealed, but it is not a central plot point, nor is it made much of.

My friends and I are the kind of moviegoers that you probably don't want to sit by! We had so much fun watching this together that when we exited the theatre, several perfect strangers saw our giggles and asked ironically if we had enjoyed the movie. "Yes, we did!" We all want to see it again, and in fact, we are considering buying platform boots and sequined outfits!

Oh, and be sure to stick around for the encore! information on Mamma Mia review for Mamma Mia

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Plugged In Online Review - Dark Knight

A GREAT Christian perspective on The Dark Knight is available at (Lots of spoilers though!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight (2008)

I've never really been a comic book kind of girl. Oh , of course, I watched the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve back in the day - didn't everybody? But I resisted pretty much all other comic books and related media.

Then I had sons.

Suddenly I was part of the Star Wars craze, the Spiderman hoopla, and the Batman buzz. And you know what? I liked it! Yeah, the woman who would prefer a romantic comedy above almost everything else (except Lord of the Rings!) was sucked into the comic book world.

So, I've racked up viewings of Spiderman 1, 2 and 3, of Ironman, of Batman Begins, of Superman Returns, The Rocketeer, even Constantine (although that was a movie I saw on my own - hehe), and several others. And tonight, I added The Dark Knight to my list.

Lots of people LOVED The Dark Knight. The reviews are great! Heath Ledger's untimely death only added to the hype surrounding it. What did I think? Did I like it? Well, I'm still not quite sure.

We attended a sold-out 9:50pm showing. We ended up sitting in the front row, so the enormous screen was literally just feet away. Sometimes I like sitting that close. I especially recall one viewing of The Lake House that was quite memorable, as well as several viewings of one or more of the Lord of the Rings films.

Tonight, however, I found it overwhelming to be so close to the action. This is a movie with a LOT going on. Plot twists, high speed chases, shoot-outs, explosions, and death-defying Batstunts were THIS close. Plus huge closeups of The Joker to add to my disorientation.

So, let's talk about the Joker. Ledger's performance has been touted as genius for months now and I'd have to agree. He achieved a truly masterful performance. I felt sorry for the Joker, hated him, marveled at his insane plotting, and wished him dead. He took center stage, almost leaving Bruce Wayne/Batman as a secondary character.

So many characters were onscreen throughout the two-and-a-half hours that my head began to spin. Much less time was left for Batman than I would have preferred. Christian Bale's talents seemed wasted in this film. His screen time regrettably seemed relegated to mostly shadowy whispering and speeding Batcycles. The Batcycle WAS pretty amazing, though, as were all of Batman's devices and weapons.

Weapons? Oh yeah, lots of weapons in this movie, accompanied by lots of violence. Guns abound, although not wielded by Batman. Bombs, booby traps, poison, and knives also are used to dispatch many victims. The camera work is often accomplished in a way that leaves the results of the violence to one's imagination in many cases. The result is clear, but the graphic method is not shown in some cases. I wouldn't recommend this for young children or sensitive viewers of any age. At least one young child of about age 7 was in the audience tonight. (Did I mention this was a 9:50 PM viewing? That got done at 12:30 AM?)

One theme that seems to run through an awful lot of comic book movies concerns the responsibility of a hero. The Dark Knight followed this pattern. The characters often discussed the need Gotham City has for a hero and just what kind of a hero was necessary. Batman had choices to make - would he follow his moral compass or would he renounce it? How far can he go and still follow his calling? These are questions that deserve discussion from those who have seen the movie - especially teens. A lot can be learned.

So, I am still uncertain as to whether or not I "liked" this film. Maybe "like" is too bland of a word for the reaction I've had. The Dark Knight resonated with me at a deep level and made me think, but was it just entertainment? I guess I need to see it again to know for sure! So, apparently I liked it enough!

Let me know what you think. Leave me a comment. Pretty please?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Clone Wars Trailer

David thinks the upcoming Clone Wars animated movie looks cool!

I'll have to admit it is quite exciting! The movie comes out mid-August, so there's ANOTHER movie we'll want to see in theatres. I can take James to this one too.

In case you're wondering, the Clone Wars take place between Episodes 2 and 3.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Becoming Jane (2007)

After watching The Jane Austen Book Club (which I really don't recommend), my friend Darlene and I decided we wanted our own Austen club and started one - The Rollicking Readers Club. So far we've read Emma and Persuasion. Pride and Prejudice is our next selection.

I am becoming steeped in the world of Jane Austen, so I thought now would be an appropriate time to view Becoming Jane. What a charming movie! The filmmakers, along with some scholars, apparently imagine that Jane Austen had at least one star-crossed love affair. Becoming Jane is the fictionalized account of that love story.

No one alive knows for sure what actually happened because much of Jane's correspondence with her sister was destroyed. Family legend includes some details, but they have been passed down orally and have no substantiation. But, whatever the truth, it is a well-told story.

Jane is a single woman living with her family around the turn of the 19th century. She falls in love with a penniless young lawyer and his family opposes the match.

Jane is charmingly played by Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries) although her English accent is a bit weak at times. James McAvoy (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe; Atonement) portrays Tom LaFroy, the young lawyer. The chemistry between them is magnetic and believable. I enjoyed seeing the possible connections between Jane's life and events in her novels, made evident by memorable quotes from the books used as lines in the movie.

I found Becoming Jane a thoroughly enjoyable movie and would recommend it for all ages.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Too Many Movies for the Weather!

Oh my, lots of movies to see - and gorgeous weather that doesn't mesh with the desire to sit in a theater! I've never understood the summer movie season - weather in Michigan is bad enough the rest of the year that in summer I don't want to sit in a theater too much.

Haven't managed to see Indiana Jones. Ah well.

Planning to see The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia. At least I WANT TO. And The Day the Earth Stood Still, of course. :-) (Especially since I didn't even bother with Street Kings!)

Others I'd not mind viewing: Get Smart, The Accidental Husband.

David's asking for Journey to the Center of the Earth and the other kids want to see Kung Fu Panda. They all want to see Wall-E. The girls want to see Kit Kittredge.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Day The Earth Stood Still - trailer

I've been wondering about this film for a while. It looks MUCH better than I thought it would. What do you think? Will you see it?

And yes, that is Will Smith's son that shows up in the trailer.

Oh yeah, and Keanu. :::silly grin:::

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

June Reads

Wow, can you believe it's July already?

Strapless by Leigh Riker - 06/01/08
Fair - Chick Lit
Darcie travels to Australia for work and meets Dylan, a handsome sexy sheep rancher. Explicit sex.
I read this because it was here and I was bored and needed a light read. I don't recommend it.

Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick - 06/18/08
Good - Fiction
Anna Maria is a 14-year-old student of Antonio Vivaldi at the Pieta' music school & foundling home in 18th century Venice amid intrigue, lies, and amazing music.
We have listened over and over to the Classical Kids audio cassette Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery which takes place at this school. Quick's book is probably a lot more realistic; it certainly is a lot more earthy. Vivaldi is a real man. The orphans sneak out, but for more risque purposes than Katarina in Ring of Mystery. But, the music! Oh, the music. Did you know Vivaldi's music was largely unknown until the 20th century? Anyway, this was a satisfying read.

Emma by Jane Austen - 06/18/08
Fair - Classic
Emma, a rich 21 yo with tendencies toward meddling and matchmaking, finds herself humbled and on the brink of love.
Ok, I'll admit it. Emma bored me. I had the MOST difficult time reading it. Note the dates here? The first book of the month was completed June 1. This one was completed June 18. Vivaldi's Virgins was started only AFTER the Austen Book Club on June 14. No, I didn't finish Emma in time for Book Club. Although it's a classic, I think it's beyond the ken of the average modern reader. Don't bother with it. However, if you want to know the story, watch the BBC film instead of the Gwyneth Paltrow version. It's much closer to the book.

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich - 06/19/08
Good - Fiction
Stephanie's ex-husband is missing and she is suspected in his disappearance, so she and Ranger must track him down. (listened to the audiobook)
Listened to the audiobook to refresh my memory of the plot before reading Fearless Fourteen. (see below). I hadn't listened to any Evanovich books on audio before and I REALLY enjoyed it!

The Princess Bride by William Goldman - 06/20/08
Good - Fiction
A classic tale of love and high adventure. (audiobook)
The kids and I listened to this on audio in the car. It was exciting and romantic, but had a different 'feel' than the movie. It was read by Rob Reiner, who is evidently a better director than a reader. If you want to listen to it, I'd suggest a different version (although I don't think one exists). I also didn't realize it was abridged, so at some point, I'll probably read the original.

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer - 06/21/08
Excellent - Non-fiction
Chris McCandless was a young college graduate with everything going for him, but he gave it all up to walk into the wild of Alaska.
I watched this movie a few weeks ago and thought I had read the book. Eventually I realized I had just read what I think was a Reader's Digest condensation of a longer article. So, I picked up the book. It was FASCINATING.

Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman - 06/22/08
Excellent Non-fiction
A second helping of “how-to” for any writer dreaming of great bucks and exceptional quality of life (a companion volume to The Well-fed Writer)
I read The Well-fed Writer a few weeks ago and ordered this volume from the author. In case you've been wondering, this is the business I am going to start - commercial freelance writing. This is an excellent book - while I am reading it, I feel completely confident that I can succeed at this business. Hopefully I can take the principles and apply them effectively.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: PARENTING by Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht, Sarah Jordan - 06/22/08
Fair - Non-fiction
Illustrated step-by-step instructions to tell you what to REALLY expect when your worst-case scenario is all in the family.
This was stupid. Half of the instructions were serious and the other half I THINK were supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but it was hard to tell. Don't bother with this. Luckily it was short.

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich - 06/28/08
Good - Fiction
Stephanie finds herself taking care of a teenager whose mom has been kidnapped and she needs to find the location of 9 million dollars.
The latest eagerly-awaited installment in the Stephanie Plum series. I read it in a day. I plan to re-read it before returning it to the library. Exciting!