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Our Writers

Francine Graff, MH Columnist

 

Christine Fugate, MH Creator

Lily Williams, Movie Reviewer

Tuesday
Sep082009

Adventureland

 

 

Believe when I say that I did not expect to like this movie. Yes, I like Kristen Stewart and am obsessed with her as Twilight babe, but didn't really want to think of her as a theme park employee. But when my BFF said she had to see anything that Kristen does, I went along for the ride. And I LOVED IT!.  This movie is sweet, poignant and, at times, hilarious. I know it is a 'teen' movie, but it has a lot of meaning for adults. First of all Jesse Eisenberg completely reminds me of the geeky guys I used to fall for when I was in college. I could practically smell him during the first kiss and hug scene. Oh young love and the vision of what love could be! Kristen Stewart is good as the ignored child with the mean stepmother. Her parents were a bit of a stereotype, but I like I said, this is a movie for teens a.k.a. all parents are evil. There is a classic moment when Jesse goes out with the hot babe named Lisa P to a fancy restaurant. I won't spoil it by telling you, except that I shared it with my wine club friends several times.

The DVD extras are good. Because I am so obsessed with this film, I enjoyed hearing that it was based on Greg Mottola's experience working as a carnie at the real life Adventureland. The deleted scenes are okay but I know there are more on that cutting room floor that they did not share. No fair!

A must see for adults and teens 14+. Nothing too offensive on the birds and bees, but there is a lot of smoking and drinking.

Amazon.com
A sweet and slap-happy mix of indie coming-of-age drama and Judd Apatow’s scatological but heartfelt manchild comedies, Greg Mottola’s Adventureland is a winning look at the pleasures and frustrations of dead-end jobs and teenage kicks as viewed through a filter of mid-‘80s pop culture. The underutilized and always watchable Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale) is a sheltered, introspective New York college grad who discovers that his parents’ financial woes will not only quash his dream of a summer in Europe (to enjoy its more “sexually permissive” nations) but require a move to Pittsburgh, where he lands a job at a dilapidated amusement park. There, he’s thrown in with a motley crew of eccentrics, small-town types and a few genuine free spirits, most notably co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart), whose complicated past proves irresistible to his repressed psyche. Mottola, who directed Superbad and episodes of the well-loved Freaks and Geeks, and who once worked in a similar park as a teen, doesn’t shy from the crude laughs that make Apatow’s features so popular, but he tempers it with a wistful tone and layered characters that hew closer to his earliest work, The Daytrippers. Though ill-matched at first, Eisenberg and Stewart make a likable on-screen couple, and they’re well-supported by a terrific cast that includes such die-hard scene-stealers as Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the park’s offbeat owners, Martin Starr as a Russian lit aficionado, and Ryan Reynolds as a former town tamer, now reduced to working as the park’s handyman. A soundtrack performed by underground faves Yo La Tengo and filled with a smart mix of hip cuts (Hüsker Dü, the New York Dolls, the Replacements) and period faves (Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus”) underscores the film’s blend of tentative emotions and broad laughs. -- Paul Gaita

Featurette: Jesse (Bonus)

Monday
Mar162009

Happy-Go-Lucky

Actors: Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Samuel Roukin, Elliot Cowan, Andrea Riseborough

Directors: Mike Leigh

Number of discs: 1

Studio: MIRAMAX

DVD Release Date: March 10, 2009

Run Time: 118 minutes

Price: $19.99 on Amazon

From Amazon Academy Award nominee Mike Leigh (Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, Vera Drake, 2004), delivers the delightfully fresh and cheerful comedy Happy-Go-Lucky. Free-spirited and effervescent, Poppy is a schoolteacher whose unstoppable optimism guides her life. Bubbling forth with giggles, laughter and jokes, life's a bowl of cherries even when she comes across a few pits. Whether it's a cranky driving teacher or a fiery flamenco instructor, Poppy embraces life on the sunny side of the street. It's a joyous, feel-good film you'll find irresistible. Bonus features include: Behind the Wheel of Happy-Go-Lucky, Happy-In-Character, audio commentary by Director Mike Leigh 

Sunday
Feb152009

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

 

Actors: Jeff Bridges, Kirsten Dunst, Diana Kent, Miriam Margolyes, Bill Paterson

Directors: Robert B. Weide

Number of discs: 1

Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)

DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009

Run Time: 110 minutes

Price: $19.99 on Amazon

From rottentomatoes.com:

Toby Young's scathing roman à clef about his stint working for Vanity Fair is rather loosely adapted for the screen in this film of the same name. Young briefly worked for the high-profile magazine in the mid-1990s, and upon his dismissal he penned a snarky memoir that went on to become a major bestseller. Now, in the film version, we have Simon Pegg as Sidney Young, a cocky journalist who is hired by editor Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges) to work for Sharps magazine. Sidney arrives in New York with grand plans to expose the ridiculousness of modern celebrity culture, but Harding forces him to work on puff pieces with fellow writer Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst). Sidney refuses to adapt to the glitzy magazine world, and is ostracized for his offensive, sloppy behavior. He and Alison--a frustrated novelist at heart--trade barbs and bond over their terrible jobs, slowly developing a quirky camaraderie. Things take a turn when Sidney meets Sophie Maes (Megan Fox), an ambitious starlet. He becomes determined to get Sophie into bed, no matter the cost, and after several madcap incidences involving crushed Chihuahuas and transsexuals, he finds himself suddenly sucked into the flashy world of Sharps. In danger of losing himself completely, he tries to figure out what it is he really wants, and what he is willing to sacrifice to get it.

 

 

Monday
Jan262009

Swing Vote

 

Swing Vote
Actors: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer, Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci, George Lopez and Madeline Carroll
Directors: Joshua Michael Stern
Rating:
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Number of discs: 1
List Price: $29.99
Studio: TOUCHSTONE / DISNEY
DVD Release Date: January 13, 2009
Run Time: 120 minutes


Amazon.com Product Description: Kevin Costner stars in the hilarious timely comedy Swing Vote as Bud Johnson, an Average Joe, who is coasting through life with the help of Molly, his wise-beyond-her-years daughter. In a remarkable turn-of-events, the result of the presidential election comes down to his vote. Costner is joined by a brilliant all-star cast including Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer, Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci and George Lopez who will stop at nothing to win over the vote of the man who holds the fate of the free word.

Amazon.com Editorial Review: The ghost of Frank Capra is summoned up in Swing Vote, a populist comedy about the U.S. presidential election--because of an electoral deadlock--coming down to one man, one vote. Alarmingly (for the future of the world), that one man is Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner), a beer-swilling, newly-unemployed divorced dad in Texico, New Mexico. Bud's got a week to re-cast his flawed ballot, so the entire election process--including the two candidates, played by Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper--descends on Texico for an orgy of campaign flapdoodle. Costner tries hard (probably too hard) to be the irresponsible good ol' boy, the kind of role he used to be able to handle with ease; by contrast, the composed Madeline Carroll, as his Little Miss Sunshiny daughter, comes off as a model of naturalism. Except for some pointed commercials, in which the candidates sell out their values to appeal to Bud's whimsical opinions on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, the movie's political bite is remarkably toothless. Both Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane are in the groove as cutthroat campaign managers, and the movie is jolted out of its beery idle with a late one-scene performance by Mare Winningham. There's an interesting film trying to climb out of Swing Vote, but it needs Frank Capra to kick it into shape. --Robert Horton

I'll be honest with you. I didn't expect to like this movie as much as I did. Maybe it's because we just finished up with a bruising presidential election campaign. Maybe it's because I like Kevin Costner more than I realized. Nah...what really made this movie was newcomer Madeline Carroll as his daughter Molly. She showed poise and ability far beyond her years...and far beyond many adult actors I've seen. The story is engaging, funny and yet makes you think...how far DO politicians go to gain our vote? How far behind are they willing to leave their own core beliefs just to win? Both Dennis Hopper and Kelsey Grammer give solid performances as politicians on each side of the aisle who have to answer that very question. Kevin Costner does an admirable job of portraying the loser "Bud" as he gets caught up in his new found celebrity and perks. The question of the day is, will he finally grow up and do the right thing or keep right on wallowing in mediocrity? Watch the film and find out. The ending was exactly right for what the film is trying to portray...that the outcome is not as important as the growth of the individual.

BONUS: The DVD has many bonus features, including exclusive glimpses behind the scenes, filmmaker commentary and deleted scenes.

4 out of 5 binkies.

CPA Mom

 

Monday
Nov242008

Scrubs: The Complete Seventh Season

Cast:

Zach Braff
Sarah Chalke
Donald Faison
Neil Flynn
Ken Jenkins
John C. McGinley
Judy Reyes

Scrubs is a show you can't help but like. It's characters are silly, almost stupid, and crass sometimes but you want them to succeed, fall in love and find happiness. I think it is because the show is silly, stupid and crass sometimes but you always see a glimpse of heart, kindness and a glimmer of serious that makes you just want to cheer them on.

This DVD set is a great collection of episodes that showcase the great chemistry of the emsemble cast and the fluid way they move together to make this show work. Some highlights in this set include the janitorial staff creating a newletter and making stories up about the doctors, Elliot and Carla campaigning to stop Dr. Kelso from being forced into retirement and the season finale, "My Princess", a take-off of "The Princess Bride". The bonus features are cool too. They include the behind the scenes look at the making of the finale which included lavish make-up and wardrobe.

As always, the bloopers are funny and another neat bonus is the feature that shows alternate lines from certain scenes. It is sort of cool to see the different things they try compared to the final take.

Considering this show was sort of riddled with the plight of the writers strike and interupted and sort of misplaced several times, this is a great way to see the whole season in it's entirety. If you are a fan of this show, you can't really go wrong. It woud probably be a good gift for someone this holiday season.

8 out of 10 binkies.