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Jurassic World (2015)
***Spoilers*** I went to this because I had a free ticket. I decided to use it for Jurassic World because I thought it would be nice to see a good Jurassic Park sequel. Yeah. The first 20 minutes or so were spent introducing characters so stock I could almost see the barcodes on their backs. It was sort of like watching the opening of a Scifi channel original but with pricier stars. A couple of the actors had enough personality to make their characters entertaining-- Jake Johnson, Chris Pratt, Irrfan Khan. The rest barely rose above cardboard level, with the exception of B.D. Wong because he at least got the "Oh that guy from that other movie" response. Bryce Dallas Howard actually managed to make her stock working woman with no time for family who loosens up and learns what's really important when faced with monster death character seem even less lifelike. And didn't even smudge her beige high heels though her hair did get spontaneously curly. I was never the biggest fan of Jurassic Park. I liked it. But it wasn't my favorite move ever. I've seen the second one twice but I couldn't tell you the plot. And I kind of like the third one because I like people in the cast. So I don't have any "this isn't the original so it sucks" feelings. But this movie is sort of the antithesis of the original. That one was scary because it had normal people stuck in a world of dinosaurs. Not supernaturally smart genius indestructible witch dinosaurs, just regular as they might have been dinosaurs. Which was pretty scary. And a lot of the violence was off-screen. You saw a dinosaur then heard screams. But this movie. I am okay with suspension of disbelief. It's a necessary thing when watching movies. So I could go with them having raptors even though they were a huge problem in the first park and they don't even seem to be on public display in Jurassic World so there's no reason for their existence or the risk having them entails. I'm okay with the park apparently having no real evacuation plan other than have everyone stand in the courtyard. I'm okay with them being greedy bastards who think staying in business means building fake extra big extra mean dinosaurs for people to watch stand behind trees or eat tethered goats, and have no plan to neutralize said dinosaur if it escapes. But I am not okay with a dinosaur that is so smart it not only knows that thermal imaging exists and what it is it makes a plan to hide from it. That is so smart it not only knows a tracker was placed in it, it knows what trackers are for and that it should remove it. A dinosaur that is everywhere on the island simultaneously. Plus several other stock things done by stock characters that could in no way ever happen. Is the movie entertaining? Yes. Will you like it if you like to see dinosaurs chomping things? Yes. Should you take little kids to it? No. Will you like it if you think the first movie was one of the best movies ever? Probably not. Will you like it if you have a problem with poorly written characters, bad clichéd dialogue and major plot holes that require you to not only suspend disbelief but to forget that there are any beliefs? No. Right now this has a 7.9. Though it's really just a Scifi channel movie with a bigger budget for special effects and actors. They can be entertaining. But they aren't THAT good.
Sing Your Face Off (2014)
What is this?
Nutshell: semi-famous people get dressed up like famous singers and come out and perform like them in front of judges. I don't really understand what this show is supposed to be. It is set up like a competition, but it is clearly not one. The scores are completely arbitrary and have no relation to whether the person was actually good at channeling the artist or not. The judges include Debbie Gibson, who is a singer, and does give some criticisms though she is just as likely to use her turn to talk to mention her former career or demonstrate her singing ability. She is also the go-to person for the camera when the performer comes out and she can show her "oh gosh what a surprise" face. Darrell Hammond is the other permanent judge, and I'm not sure what his qualification is. He doesn't give critiques of the performances, he just does bits instead. Then they have a guest judge who usually ends up just being a straight man or comic relief. But as I said, since the scores don't correlate at all to the performances, I guess the judges don't matter. I assume they get a list of who gets what score before the taping so the right person wins. Also it is never really spelled out what the criteria are. Because sometimes the judges commented that the person sang well but didn't seem like the person that much like it was bad, and other times they said you sang well even though it didn't sound like the person like it was a good thing. To transform the performers, they use make-up, latex, wigs, costumes etc. But the make-up generally looks completely fake and less like the real singer than the performer's own features did. So that's pretty pointless. For example, Jon Lovitz as "Meat Loaf" looked more like Adam Sandler's Opera Man than Meat Loaf. And China Anne McClain as "James Brown" looked more like a California raisin than James Brown. Everything that happens, from reactions to "spontaneous banter" to judges critiques seems completely scripted and not the least bit natural or spontaneous. And John Barrowman as host- OMG- I used to like John Barrowman now I'm not so sure. Either he's a really terrible actor or he was doing a really good impersonation of a terrible cheesy 70s game show host. When he would double over with laughter and wipe his eyes over things like a Darrell Hammond impression that wasn't even remotely funny I was embarrassed for him. The copyright at the end of the show was 2013 so I'm kind of curious as to when this was actually filmed. It was fun to watch, but like I said I really don't know what it was supposed to be as it was clearly not a real competition. Maybe as other people suggested, it was just a showcase for a Disney star, but if so I'm not sure why they bothered she was completely forgettable. I'd never heard of China Anne McClain before and I doubt we'll hear much out of her later.
My Gal Sunday (2014)
Hallmark channel movies all have a certain level of cheesiness and implausibility. But they are usually fun to watch with decent leads. And I did read this book, long ago, and thought it was not great, but had some good parts. Like pretty much any book I've read by Mary Higgins Clark. But this movie had more than its share of corny dialog even for a Hallmark movie. That wouldn't have been so bad though, if there was any chemistry at all between the leads. I didn't get the sense that they even like being in the same room together, let alone that they were happily married. And Cameron Mathison was not believable at all as a former vice president or former secretary of state or former governor or former whatever else he was. Unless it was a former personal trainer at a gym or former salesman at Best Buy. The opening scene of the movie is so terrible it's almost painful to watch. The rest is slightly better, but not by a lot. And there were way too many lingering close-up shots of Rachel Blanchard making faces... what I guess was supposed to be "emoting." I was actually looking forward to this movie, despite the fact that every time Cameron Mathison said that My Gal Sunday line in the ads it made me cringe. But this wasn't even decent plot-wise. I'd say more about that but I honestly don't even remember what the plot was. Kidnapping the parents of the leads to make them let someone out of prison I think. It was that dull.
I love Fresno so much. I watched all of the night time soaps, and I saw this when it aired. They used to show it on Comedy Central back when the channel was new. My favorite gag was always "the Rolls isn't running today, madam" then watching Carol riding in back of the station wagon. Also when Billy Joe always seems to be confessing to murder when the jailers walk buy. This was released on VHS in the UK, I bought a copy on eBay years ago and bought a worldwide VCR just to transfer this one show to DVD. It was released in 2 parts on VHS, first part was 2 hours and 16 minutes, the second part was 2 hours and 10 minutes (only 1 playing of the credits was omitted for the 1st tape, 2 playings of the credits for the second tape explaining the time difference) but you only see the opening and closing credits twice- once for each part- instead of 5 times for the 2 hour 1st and one hour 2nd through 5th episodes so that cut out several minutes. I watch Fresno a couple times a year, I just finished watching season one of Falcon Crest which is where a majority of the spoofing comes from, so I had to watch it again. There are too many great moments, like everyone always having a drink in their hand, even when skulking in bushes, or Kevin giving mouth-to-gills to some dead fish, to list them all, but if you watched any of the prime-time 80s soaps and like spoofs at all, you have to watch this if you get a chance.
Didn't anyone have a Belt?
POSSIBLE SPOILERS This movie was okay up until the end, although I had a distinct feeling of deja vu watching many of the scenes, but couldn't someone have offered their pants or belt or something so Jay could have tied down that lever? It wasn't like it took a lot of effort to keep it down and a strong guy had to use all his muscles to prevent it from popping back up again. He pretty much just held it down with one finger while he messed with his cigarette. Why was he always hanging out in the subway terminal anyway? What was the guy with the gum wanted for? How did Kay know so much about Jay? So many questions, so little story.
Who Is Cletis Tout? (2001)
This movie was cute. It was entertaining enough for 90 minutes. But at the end I was left wishing I hadn't seen it. This is just the kind of movie I like, comedic capers with quirky characters. And it could have been so good. But it was just okay. It left me with the same feeling I had after watching The Mexican- that if it had a different director or had been edited differently I would have loved it. Near misses are so much worse than absolute bombs.
Sorority Boys (2002)
Michael Rosenbaum is kind of pretty
This movie is probably for 12 year old boys and people who like the actors. I like Michael Rosenbaum and Harland Williams so I wasn't that disappointed. Of course, after seeing the trailers I was expecting a D movie so it was actually better than I thought it would be. There is quite a bit in the movie to offend people who like to be offended. Personally, speaking as an ugly girl who would be kicked out of frat parties (although why any girl would want to be at a frat party in the first place is beyond me), I wasn't offended because I'm too apathetic to get worked up about the messages in a badly written movie. What bothered me a lot more were the dropped plot points all throughout the film. There are too many to mention so I won't. It is also much easier for me to ignore the fact that the guys looked like guys and no one noticed- suspension of disbelief in favor of going with the main plotline- than it is for me to ignore the fact that they wore dresses and pumps and carried little purses to college classes. Or that the president of the "cool" fraternity was such a complete dork. Long story short, there are just SO many things wrong with this movie that if you aren't the type who can shut off the critical or easily offended portions of your brain and just enjoy Michael Rosenbaum looking pretty in a mini-skirt and heels (or skinny girls in wet t-shirts for some of you) then you don't want to watch this movie.
Hollywood Wives (1985)
Another Good 80s Glitz-fest
***SLIGHT SPOILERS*** Hollywood Wives is a good movie if you like 80s mini-series based on the works of Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins (or maybe even those silly 2 hour Danielle Steele adaptations). It isn't as good as Scruples or I'll Take Manhattan but it is better than Til We Meet Again or Malibu, about on-par with Bare Essence. The story is really unimportant, the fun thing with these movies is the cast, the costumes and the cheesy dialogue. Hollywood Wives has the costumes and cheese down, but it misses the mark a bit in casting. This is the story of Hollywood Royalty and their various bad marriages, so the people should be extra-beautiful. For the most part the women are good, but I had a hard time getting past Steve Forrest as a Movie Idol, he just isn't a very good actor and I know there are people who do, but I don't find him the least bit attractive. Especially when he walks around with his stomach sucked in and his chest puffed out wearing gold chains. *SPOILER* Andrew Stevens didn't seem quite up to his role either though he was better than Forrest (his acting as Deke was horrible in a very contrived story that was distracting because the conclusion was so obvious from the very first Deke frame). Robert Stack was a bit hard to swallow as the retired king of the great actors, but his screen time was limited so it wasn't too bad. Finally: where was Barry Bostwick? Didn't the producers of this movie know that an 80s mini-series is just not complete without Bostwick? It's like throwing a Super bowl party with no chips.
Zero Effect (1998)
I wish this had been a big success at the box office. I remember when it came out, watching Siskel & Ebert review it, wanting to watch it. It was one of the first movies I bought when I got a DVD player and I loved it. Which is why I wish it had been a success. If there is any movie out there that I want to see a sequel to, it is this one. I want more adventures of Daryl Zero, more cases, conning Steve Arlo into leaving his honeymoon or his new job to work this 'one last time'. I'll watch Rush Hour 2, Matrix 2, Shrek 2 etc., but if those sequels weren't made I wouldn't miss them. Daryl Zero I'll miss.
A Slight Case of Murder (1999)
When they announced this movie for TNT I was excited. A Travesty from Donald Westlake's "Enough" was one of my all time favorite stories. After I watched it I was not all that thrilled. Recently I had the chance to watch it a second time with my aunt, and once again I was disappointed (she didn't like it much either, and she'd never read the book). In this movie they managed to sap all the charm from the book and turn it into dull mush. A big part of the problem was William H. Macy. I like him fine in other films, but he played (Terry/Carey) Thorpe as a stammering, incompetent yutz. In the book Thorpe takes a lot of valium for his nerves, but remains outwardly collected at almost all times which is part of the fun. SPOILERS follow: They also left out a big part of the story (other than a 2 second glimpse at the embassy), where Thorpe solves not 1 but 4 homicides for the police. This is important not just because it's funny, but because it helps set up the relationship between Fred and Thorpe. In the movie Fred's betrayal in the end is not nearly as affecting, because they don't seem all that close. In the book they become pretty good friends especially on Fred's side, which makes it all the more ironic that he is he one that arranges Thorpe's downfall. Fred also suffered a bit from casting, I love Adam Arkin but he was not a cheerful, happy to be alive upbeat sort of Detective, character traits which book Fred possesses which makes it more obviously out of character for him to mess with evidence and thus more shocking. Patricia and Edgarson were pretty close to the book, and James Cromwell was great despite not looking much like Martin Balsam. The whole boring boat house scene which was entirely added for the film was much less interesting than the police finding Edgarson's body after Thorpe ships it to Seattle and blaming the death on the mob. Kit was okay although she was mostly rewritten, and it would have been nice to see her die as she did get slightly annoying. I don't mind changes to books to make movies, I know they are necessary because of length and difficulty, but it would have been nice if some of the changes in this movie had been funnier or smarter instead of duller.