Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Charlie St. Cloud, 2010, ****1/2, PG-13

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

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Starring: Zac Efron, Charlie Tahan, Kim Basinger, Amanda Crew, Ray Liotta

 

By Meredith A. Iager

 

I knew this would be one of my favorite dramas when I saw the trailer and I don’t have that happen often.  This is one of the more powerful movies in the past 3 years, and is truly outstanding, yet a tear-jerker.  Everyone should see this movie.  It connects life, death, what you’re passionate about, and how to move on from unexpected tragedy, and seeing things for what they are.

 

Off the coast of Maine, in a small boating town, life’s about taking the second chances God gives you, and going with your gut, in this drama-slice-of-life film.  Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron, “High School Musical”) is an avid wind-surfing champion along with his brother.  Tragically, soon after they win the race, Charlie and his brother Sam (Charlie Tahan, “Nights in Rodanthe”) get in a horrific car accident, and Sam dies, and Charlie flat lines, but is brought back to the living by EMT Florio Ferrente (Ray Liotta).

 

Before Sam passes on, Charlie promised him he would train with him 1 hour a day baseball lessons.  Sams’ passion in life was collecting baseball cards, and learning how to be a pro. And he continues his promise even when his brother is in limbo between earth and seeing the light and passing on.

 

As Charlie begins to play baseball with Sam, he starts to take a liking to an old classmate Tess (Amanda Crew, “She’s The Man”).  He starts to forget about Sam, and Sam slowly disappears.  But there are larger complications to the story that will make you baffled, but wanting to understand more of the story.  Just get it and watch the new Blu-Ray!

 

We defiantly get a flavor of more things to come from actor Zac Efron, and I’m more excited to see new projects from him in the future, now that his “High School Musical” teeny-bopper smash hits have subsided.   I also must note Charlie Tahan (Sam) and Amanda Crew (Tess) are also excellent in this film, and really make it special. 

 

Put this DVD on your holiday check list.  This is a keeper and one to watch at least once a year, to keep you in check of what you need to do in life.  Never forget your passions, never forget your dreams, and no matter what, after tragedy, life will move on, greater than it did before.

 

The Last Song, 2010, *** PG

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

 

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Starring: Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear, Kelly Preston

 

I can never have enough of Nicolas Sparks and his beachy love and life drama-romances.  His latest novel turned movie is simply excellent, however, it seemed like it went by very fast.  I no sooner hit “buy” on the On Demand service, and boom, the movie was almost over.  I think I just enjoyed it so much, it flew by! 

 

Ronnie Miller (Miley Cyrus, “Hannah Montana: The Movie”) is driven down by her mom (Kelly Preston) down to her father’s (Greg Kinnear, “Godsend,” “The Matador”) home on the shore in Georgia for the summer, along with her younger brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman, “Post Grad,” “Martian Child”).  Her relationship with her father hasn’t been too great since her parents divorced and he headed south, not to mention, they are very similar in personality, and both share the gifted, musical gene of playing the piano. 

 

Soon after Ronnie arrives she starts falling for a local rich boy (Liam Hemsworth, “Knowing”) and they start becoming an item in town; making all the ex-girlfriends of his very jealous.  The boy-thing sure helps Ronnie out, and making her relax more, start to talk with her father, and have a fresh slate for their relationship.

 

The film takes a downward spiral when she learns her father’s health has been compromised for some time.  This is probably the most heart wrenching part of the movie, and some great acting by Bobby Coleman (Jonah, Ronnie’s younger brother).

 

You need to watch this film, it’s a good one.

Dear John, 2010, ***1/2, PG-13

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

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Starring: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried

Another Nicolas Sparks novel is adapted’ directed by Lasse Holstrom (“The Cider House Rules,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”). They seem to be a regular thing now, about every 2.5 years… This is definitely not a bad thing! The aftermath of 9/11 sent US Troops to war with Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries. This has created many families, and other relationships to crumble or thrive on the separation makes the heart grow stronger, or to whatever extent you might believe in…

John Tyree (Channing Tatum, “Fighting,” “Step Up”) is a solider in the US Army. He is home on leave with his father (Richard Jenkins, “Step Brothers”), in Wilmington, N.C. He randomly runs into a College bound Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried, “Jennifer’s Body,” “Mean Girls”) on the beach one afternoon, when her purse falls off the pier, and he dives into save it. (I think it would have been better if she got knocked off the pier and he saved her — now that would have made the story more believable (he saves her life, they fall in mad love) ..don’t you think?

Basically, this love-sick saga is through the powerful tool of pen, paper, and a stamp…over a year they write back and forth, then she tells him some bad news, and you think their romance is over… Well I guess you’ll have to find out.

I gained a lot more respect for Channing Tatum as an actor in this film. He has done mostly kiddie type movies, but I guess everyone has to start somewhere. He’s a good looking guy, ripped, and really shows he can pull off the emotional part of the script, well.

Check this one out on DVD, today. This is a must buy for Sparks movie collectors.

The Time Traveler’s Wife, 2009, ****, PG-13

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” This movie is better than “The Notebook,” you know why?  It adds the Sci-Fi element of time travel that really makes your mind wander around the idea of it actually happening.  Not to mention Eric Bana is like one of those hunks on a Harlequin romance novel. 

 

Claire (Rachel McAdams, “The Notebook,” “The Wedding Crashers”) met Henry (Eric Bana, “Hulk,” “The Nugget,” “Troy”) in the field on her childhood home when she was about 9.  Through the years she kept a diary of the times she saw him, and kept the hope of one day being with this love of her life. 

 

The film centers around Henry’s disappearing act (time travel).  His travels are explained as some sort of genetic disorder.  He began appearing and disappearing after a car accident that left his mother dead, and him being thrust back into different years and places for no apparent reason, one place happening to be Claire’s yard; he appears as a 40-something year old man.

 

I must say, the movie starts out slow, but it is totally worth the watch.  It’s a love story that you won’t forget.  Sometimes love is worth waiting for, over and over again.   

 

The Lovely Bones, 2010, ****1/2, PG-13

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Mark Whalberg, Stanley Tucci, Saoirse Ronan

 

Director Peter Jackson does an outstanding job on this film adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel. 

 

In the 1970s, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan, “City of Ember,” “I Could Never Be Your Woman”) is a young teen full of life and in the midst of running after a love, until one afternoon her life is taken away; brutally.  Her parents, Jack (Whalberg) and Abigail (Rachel Weisz) are destroyed emotionally when she doesn’t return home from school, and the hours become days, and weeks and no evidence other than her crochet hat are found.  Jack and Abigail become separated emotionally and Abigail goes off to another county to cope with the loss, while Jack continues to search for clues, and take care of his other two children with the help of his mother-in-law, (Susan Sarandon).

 

This film is very powerful and moving, and the best murder mystery I’ve ever seen.  The story is so profound with the images of what Susie Salmon’s heaven looks like, and her trying to communicate to her father to let him know she’s okay.  The divide between the living and afterlife have such an emotional connection with the viewer, and makes you want to help Jack find out his daughters murderer.

 

The moral of this story is always go with your gut; if someone seems a tad sketchy, even if he has been friendly with your parents, don’t get trapped, literately.  This film is too deep for young children, and probably even high school kids, but then again, they might learn to stick to their guns and stay away from “strangers.” 

 

Young actress, Saoirse Ronan, is someone to definitely watch.  She played an excellent part in this film, and is going to lead the next generation of stars, Dakota Fanning, lookout!

Smart People 2008, **1/2, R

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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“Smart People,” starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Page stand out as a father and daughter who may have high IQ’s, but rate below zero in terms of their human relations skills.

Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Quaid, “The Alamo,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) might be imperiously brilliant, monumentally self-possessed and an intellectual giant — but when it comes to solving the conundrums of love and family, he’s as downright flummoxed as the next guy. His teenaged daughter (Page, “Hard Candy,” “Whip It,” “Juno”) is an acid-tongued overachiever who follows too closely in dad’s misery-loving footsteps, and his adopted, good-for-nothing brother (Thomas Haden Church, “Sideways”) has perfected the art of sponging off others.

A widower who can’t seem to find passion in anything anymore, not even the Victorian Literature in which he’s an expert, it seems Lawrence is sleepwalking through a very stunted middle age. When his brother shows up unexpectedly for an extended stay at just about the same time as he accidentally encounters his former student Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker, HBO’s “Sex and the City,” “The Family Stone”).

This film is kind of slow, however is one that you can enjoy if you are in the mood for a slice of life type comedy-drama.  I must note, superb acting by Ellen Page, new rising star, of “Juno.” The charm of Smart People is watching these characters squirm and eventually come out of their shells.  Check it out on DVD.

 

Four Christmases 2008, **1/2, PG-13

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, John Favreau, Jon Voight, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Tim McGraw, Kristin Chenoweth

 

Lots of name brands in this Reese and Vince flick.  It’s not the greatest Christmas ever, but you will definitely get some laugh-out-loud scenes.

 

Brad (Vaughn, “Fred Claus,” “The Wedding Crashers”) and Kate (Witherspoon, “Vanity Fair,” “Walk the Line”) are a happy couple, not wanting kids or marriage, that both have a set of divorced parents.  When their flight plans to their tropical vacation are delayed they must attend 4 houses, on Christmas.

 

After spending some time with Brad’s baby nephew, she realizes maybe having children isn’t so bad.  Once they arrive at her sister’s house, she just might get a surprise after taking a pregnancy test, or at least a surprise that will leave you cracking up for a few minutes!

 

This is a ridiculous slap-stick comedy, which is fun to watch, only once.  Enjoy!  With Vince and Reese you can’t go wrong.  Get it on DVD.