The Ugly Truth, 2009, *1/2, PG-13

July 7th, 2010


Starring:  Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler


This movie was disappointing.  It’s your typical romantic comedy, but it seemed like certain scenes were unfinished, and there was way too much back and forth banter, and not enough action!


Essentially Gerard Buter plays Mike, the raunchy late night host of, “The Ugly Truth.”  He talks about why women are crazy, and all men care about is the way a woman looks.  Katherine Heigl plays Abby, a producer of a Sacramento morning show/news program.  The ratings are low during sweeps month, and her manager decides to hire Butler to do his Ugly Truth program on the show.   


As expected Abby (Heigl, “Knocked Up”) is furious with this decision, but slowly begins to realize Mike (Butler, “PS I Love You) is actually saying the truth about relationships, and starts to fall for him, (while she’s trying to pine after her neighbor—pretty boy orthopedic surgeon named, Colin—(Eric Winter).


There are some fun scenes, with Heigl and Butler dancing, and Butler having fun with two bimbos in a pool of Jello.  Renting it could be fun, if you are in love with Gerry Butler.

The Rocker, 2008, ***, PG-13

July 7th, 2010




Starring:  Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate


The guy from “The Office,” and “House of 1,000 Corpses,” stars in this hilarious flick about a drummer that almost made it big, and now has a second chance at stardom.  Rainn Wilson plats, Robert “Fish” Fishman, an extremely dedicated drummer for the eighties hair band “Vesuvius,” who is living the rock n’ roll dream until he is unceremoniously kicked out of the band.


Twenty years after his rock star fantasies are destroyed, just when Fish has finally given up all hope, he hears that his nephew’s high school rock band A.D.D. is looking for a new drummer. They reluctantly make him the newest member of the band, giving him a chance to reclaim the rock God throne he’s always thought he deserved.  He takes the young band along for the ride of their lives.


This film is much better than I thought it would be.  Rainn Wilson, reminds me of a sort of “Jack Black” character zany, with sanity, like in his passionate for music film, “School of Rock,” or the goofy film, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny.” 


Great supporting roles, by Christina Applegate, and that girl we all remember from “Superbad,” who plays Jules, Emma Stone, the bassist for A.D.D.


Rent this flick today.

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

July 7th, 2010


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!

Taking of Pelham 123 2009, ***1/2, R

July 7th, 2010


Starring: John Travolta, Denzel Washington, John Tururro, James Gandolfini


The remake is better the original with the late Walter Mathau, due to more action, and comedic one liners, in this Scott-Free Production.  Walter Garber (Washington) plays a transit dispatcher who runs into a snag; a group of hijackers on one of the lines he looks over, Pelham 123. 


Garber is a supervisor temporarily demoted while being investigated for bribery. Ryder (Travolta) the showman of the hijackers, demands $10 million within an hour, or he’ll start shooting hostages. He’ll deal only with Garber. The mayor (Gandolfini) okays the payoff, the news of the hostage situation sends the stock market tumbling, and it’s unclear what Ryder really wants or if Garber is part of the deal.


I thought this movie was a decent action flick to watch.  I would recommend watching it at least once.  Travolta and Washington make a quite a good pair.

Smart People 2008, **1/2, R

July 7th, 2010


“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.


Let the Right One In 2009, R, ** (Swedish-Dubbed in English)

July 7th, 2010


This Swedish vampire flick was simply the weirdest Vampire movie I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know whether it was because the children creeped me out or what, but I continued to view it.


The plot is very straight forward, a young vampire girl Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves into the apartment next door to Oskar.  Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is being bullied daily by 3 students at the elementary school.  Eli tries to keep her distance, yet decides to help Oskar with the bully problem and rid the bad kids.  Also-Eli is really creepy.


This movie was strange, and not what I would call a great vampire movie despite its many decent reviews.  I kind of reminded me of children of the corn meets lord of the flies.  Who knows, that might attract some people to watch.  Oh, and if you don’t mind watching dubbed movies, then maybe you can get through it.


Knowing 2009, **3/4, PG-13

July 7th, 2010


Starring: Nicholas Cage, Rose Byrne


“Knowing,” is like “The Day After Tomorrow,” meets the hit 90s series, “X-Files.”  Another version of the end of the world is the Sun approaching close enough to Earth that it is incinerated.  All life as we know it would burn up, and end.  This is quite frightening.

This film is very disturbing and unsettling.  It really makes you wonder if everything is pre-determined.  


In the 1950s in a small Massachusetts town, an Elementary school teacher (Danielle Carter) has her students draw a picture of what they think the future is like.  One particular student writes down an entire page of numbers.  The teacher put the pages in a tube and says they are creating a time capsule.


Cage (“Con Air,” “Adaptation,” “Vampire’s Kiss”) plays John Koestler a High School science teacher who is skeptical that everything is pre-determined for the future of the planet.  However, when John’s son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Powder Blue”) son receives the page full of numbers at the unveiling of the 50s time capsule, he begins to think otherwise. As expected John attempts at solving this numeric mystery, which turns into much more than anyone could or would want to imagine.  


I think this is one of Cage’s better films, including my favorite, “Con Air.”  I also think this movie is more interesting than his National Treasure adventures.  If you love Sci-Fi you may want to check it out on DVD, at least once. 

Crossing Over 2009, ***, R

July 7th, 2010




Starring: Harrison Ford, Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta


This film is a series of vignettes that focus on various parts of the Department of Homeland Security, including ICE (Immigration and Customs and Enforcement).


Harrison Ford is an ICE team member and rounds up illegals on the California/Mexico border.  At the beginning of the film, he and other team members raid a sewing factory; one particular woman is upset because her son is at an upstairs daycare, and she is forced to leave without him (late Ford-feeling some compassion for the situation-is able to find the child and return him home). 


Elsewhere, in the Los Angeles area Ashley Judd works as a social worker and tries to help immigrant families as well as orphaned children.   


We also hear from a Muslim teen in a high school classroom where she gives a speech to class and sympathizes with suicide bombers, and the 9/11 Al Qaeda terrorists.  As you can imagine this causes quite a disturbance in the classroom and yet the teacher (probably politically liberal) lets her continue the speech.


Ray Liotta is one of the many “approvers” of US Visas, and it just so happens that a particular Australian blonde agrees to sleep with him to get her Visa.  All goes awry there, as you could have guessed. 


I think this was a very well done movie, because it shows aspects of immigration issues from all angles.  It reminds me of the film “Crash,” written and directed by Paul Haggis, not only due to the vignette approach, but the idea that there are many different sides to the story.  However, toleration of people that could be threatening to the American people is not accepted, even if it’s a 15 year old (due to the fact that suicide bombers are typically in the mid teens to early 20s.) 


The film also has a great line up of actors; however we don’t see them interact with one another-maybe another film?


Check this one out on DVD if you are into political dramas, or work for the federal government.



Drag Me To Hell 2009, **1/2, Un-Rated Directors Cut

July 7th, 2010


Starring: Justin Long, Alison Lohman, Lorna Raver


This is perfect for these economic times, however, I don’t think anyone will want to work as a loan officer after seeing this horror flick.


Most of us have seen the creepy trailer before.  Essentially, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver, who has done many character actor parts in TV dramas and crime shows, “Bones,” “Boston Legal,” “CSI Las Vegas”) is in need of an extension on her payment, for the third time.  Christine Brown (Alison Lohman, “Matchstick Men,” “Flicka”) has to make the ultimate harsh decision of saying no, I’m Sorry, but we just can’t help you out this time. 


Brown is trying to becoming assistant manager at the bank, in competition with a new employee that just might get the spot.  Needless to say, sometimes doing the right thing can get you in a massive pickle you can’t get out of.  Mrs. Ganush tells her, “You shamed me” over and over again, and says some curse over Brown.


Over the next 3 days some of the most outlandish, bizarre events occur, and Brown and her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long, “Accepted,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) to and get help from a fortune teller.


I liked this movie because of its original storyline.  However, there were some really grotesque parts that some people might not be able to handle.  Some of the special effects were pretty goofy, (but you have to remember, Sam Raimi is the guy that brought us the classic horror/spoof/comedies – The Evil Dead movies) so this was kinda expected.


If you want to be spooked or watch a decent horror flick, get this one on your list to rent for Halloween night.


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

July 7th, 2010


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.