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Little Bill (1999)
Definitely a losing show
You would think a PhD in Education would actually help Bill Cosby create a show worth letting your kids watch. I'm very disappointed in this show. I remember when it first came out and I thought it would be great for my son to watch. My son has Autism. He knew more at 5 than Little Bill. I have no clue where the writers get their material; but they either have kids of their own with low IQs, or they are just never around real 5 year olds. I have a three year old now, and she knows as much as (or even more than) Little Bill. That's pretty sad. The only show that seems to compare to Little Bill is Caillou. Both shows center around whiny kids who can't understand why the world isn't revolving around them. But the kids never change. How can a character NOT evolve? Watching this show is not a pleasure. I was hoping over the years the writers would actually learn how a five year old really acts. That has not happened. Spare yourself the torture and watch just about anything else. There are a few other shows I hate as much, but I'd rather watch Oswald and listen to Fred Savage sing off key and off tempo than this nonsense.
Man on Fire (2004)
This movie was worth watching. It lasts longer than 2 hours, one of the things that surprised me about this movie. I think the casting was excellent. The storyline was unexpected. I never saw many ads for this movie and only wanted to see it because I think Denzel Washington is one of the best actors in America today. I have always been disappointed that he had to win his Academy Award in Training Day. This movie makes up for it, and I think it redeems him as a good actor. (I think everyone will agree that Training Day was not his best effort as an actor.) This movie appears to be filmed entirely on location in Mexico City. Many views of the city are presented. You see the very affluent neighborhoods and the very poor neighborhoods. In Mexico, you are either in poverty or rich. There are very few in between, which is why so many make the trip across the border in hopes of a better life not just for themselves, but for their entire family. I think the characterizations were fabulous. I felt real empathy for the characters. The script was fantastic. A bit predictable. But, for me, there is no "unpredictable". Tony Scott directed the film. I think he did a great job getting great performances from the actors. Dakota Fanning was made for the role of the kidnapped girl. She presents herself as very intelligent and yet vulnerable. I think -- if she can keep herself from being exploited by her parents and from falling for the falsity of Hollywood like most child actors -- that she has a career ahead of her that is worth following. The action in the film was great. Who doesn't enjoy seeing vigilante justice? This is a "what comes around goes around" film. If you like crime drama, action, good scripts and story lines, you should enjoy this flick. Keep the Kleenex handy if you are sentimental. Who wouldn't love Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning together? They were incredible on screen.
Alright. I'll be dating myself, but who cares? Anyone who grew up with the original Star Wars movies (Episodes IV through VI) will likely notice how horribly this movie was written, directed, even conceived. I hate this movie with a passion and refuse to watch Episodes II and III for that reason. If there is ever a movie I was relieved NOT to have seen in a theater at $15 a ticket, it's this one. The acting was pathetic. The casting was irritating. The characters were poorly conceived. The cinematography was distracting and the CGI went overboard. Jar Jar Binks has to be one of the most irritating characters to ever grace the Silver Screen. I don't know if I've written anything that might be considered a "spoiler" since this movie can't be spoiled any more than it already is. Use your time more constructively. Make paper airplanes with your kids or friends and see whose can fly furthest. Go to the kitchen and count toothpicks. Read a book by Anne Rice or J. K. Rowling. Pick the lint from your clothes dryer lint screen with tweezers. Anything you can do would be better than subjecting yourself to this movie. I normally would say the screenwriter should be dragged out into the street and shot, but I do still have a certain respect for George Lucas. Anyone who can get a movie company to make Episode II and III after this junk-fest is a genius. I may hate the movie, but you gotta admire someone who can crap a script like this and have it labeled "gold".
Not recommended for viewing with your kids
Some movies which have high ratings of PG-13 and R are acceptable to watch with your kids if you have good communication between you: parents likely are best at knowing what their individual kids can handle seeing. This movie is not for the faint of heart. The humor is quite low-brow. Anyone with "gay" issues will not want to see this one. The Formula One driver who invades NASCAR in order to be "defeated" by someone worthy is quite gay. Anyone who has issues with irreverent humor will also have trouble with this one. The reason I'm giving this movie a 7 instead of a LOWER score is the script really is well done. Will Ferrell does a great job playing a redneck, white trash (I'm Southern, so don't get your hackles up if you're offended by this description) NASCAR driver. I love the attitude that comes across when Ricky Bobby and his family spout their philosophies on love, dating, racing, religion, family and friendship. I guarantee I've been unlucky enough to be around people just like Ricky Bobby and his family. Whoever wrote the script has to have been in the South a lot. Very insightful, even if it does make rednecks look bad. (What redneck needs help with that?) Anyhow, laugh-out-loud funny, but definitely not something you'd want to watch with your kids. Unless, of course, you espouse the philosophies so freely given by Ricky Bobby and his crowd. Shake and Bake, buddy!
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
You know, I never read the X-Men Comics by Marvel. I just can't handle all the pictures and narration being intermingled. I always miss out on part of the storyline or spend my time trying to find the darn thing. But, I did enjoy the animated series when I was younger and so went to see the first and second installments of the most recent X-Men movies at the theater. I enjoyed them very much and was told by several friends that the storyline wasn't quite perfect, but that the stories themselves were OK in their own right. I personally would likely hate the movies if I had read the comics with the fervor that so many have over the years. Luckily, I can say I enjoyed even this, the third installment in the series: likely to become more than a trilogy. Considering that Star Wars by George Lucas should have stopped at the first three (anyone who enjoyed the 4th, 5th and 6th in the series -- Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi -- and was a "real" fan hated the 1st, 2nd and 3rd installments which surfaced so many years later. I never saw the 2nd or 3rd because the 1st was so horrible.) I'm hoping X-Men writers don't make the same mistake. Some of the CGI that was done was unsettling (they make Charles Xavier and Magneto look like their younger selves at the beginning of this one). And some of the CGI was very impressive. The storyline reminded me very much of the animated series, since -- of course -- The Phoenix was involved. I always had trouble understanding The Phoenix's heartfelt wish to die, since I didn't know all that was behind it. The movie does a very good job of helping the viewer understand what's going on behind the request for help. The cartoon just couldn't get that graphic, I guess. Make sure you watch the little video clips near the credits. Just watch until you get back to the DVD menu. You'll see why there will likely be a 4th movie. My guess is, they will wait for a decent screenplay and people contracting again with them. Money is at the root. Did the third movie do well enough in the box office to warrant a 4th being made? If they improve upon the 3rd, I hope they make it. If they pull a George Lucas, I hope someone will keep a 5th from surfacing.
The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
It was OK
This was a so-so movie. If you love Agatha Christie or Angela Lansbury, you should like this one. The acting was a bit overdone occasionally (but what do you expect from film "has-beens" on the big screen in 1980?). The movie was, of course, based on the Christie novel of the same name. My husband read the book and mentioned that the one-liners I loved so much in the movie were actually more abundant in the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it from that standpoint. I like Angela Lansbury, but had a hard time accepting her in the role of Miss Marple. She's taller than most -- if not all -- of the men in the movie. I always envisioned a smaller elderly woman when I thought of Miss Marple. BUT, I will say that even though she physically didn't look the part, she still did well as the super sleuth. Anyone like Pierce Brosnan? He actually has a line or two in the movie. Look for him as "Jamie" in the movie around which the actors' lives center. Basically, this is an Agatha Christie movie. Expect plot twists and unexpected clues which you won't notice, but Miss Marple will. I only partially solved this one early. I couldn't find the motive; but, when the evidence is being revealed, you'll wonder how you missed that one. If you like Agatha Christie novels made into movies, don't miss this one.
Magnum Force (1973)
*yawn* Oh, excuse me, I forgot where I was for a moment. This movie is a favorite of many Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry fans. After growing up watching mystery whodunnits, suspense thrillers, and unexpected twists in the plot, this was very disappointing. If you love Eastwood, more power to you. If you don't care either way about Eastwood, then don't feel guilty if you never view this one. I solved the mystery of "whodunnit" in the first 15 minutes or so, and spent the rest of the movie tabulating all the easy-to-spot "clues" that were written into the plot. If you haven't figured it out by the end of the movie yourself, check your pulse. You may be stone cold dead. Maybe this was good for its time. I didn't think so. Watch out for nudity. If you don't want to see it, don't watch this movie. I found the revealing shots gratuitous. Save yourself the boredom and find something else to watch. This one ain't worth the trouble.
Dirty Harry (1971)
good for the time
Okay, this is one of those movies that everyone "has" to see, according to my family. Alright, I saw it yesterday. And...I didn't like it very much. I have grown up with different movies which use the same plot structure and settings. I was most offended by the nudity in the film. If you have kids, and you're like me, keep them away from this one. Mom saw it in the theater (when she was pregnant with me! Now I've dated myself) and didn't recall the nudity at all. Well, I sure do now. If you have seen any movies with "rogue" cops who do things their way, this is the mother of all those movies. If you can handle the fact that it seems cliché NOW, after so many movies have followed in its footsteps, then go for it. Just beware the content is more of NC-17 than R.
Disney has a penchant for ruining sequels and follow-ups to movies. This is not one of those times. Disney doesn't always mess up. (That's a big surprise!) Dead Man's Chest deals with the search for Davy Jones and a missing key to a chest, but no one knows what key or what chest. I enjoyed the characterizations and the casting was impeccable. Cinematography and special effects are very much on par with the first Pirates of the Caribbean. You must see the first one before you see this one. Otherwise, all the references to the first movie will be over your head. Don't worry about that, though. The first one was great. Enjoy this one with your kids (might want to view it first for violence and some adult situations.) It was great to see the actors from the first movie repeat their performances in this one. I'm looking forward to the 3rd (and final?) Caribbean when it comes out in May 2007. Johnny Depp gives a stellar performance again! I hope they can carry this on to the final one.
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
great for teens
My son turned 12 in August. We purchased this movie at a drugstore while on vacation because I remembered watching it a loving it when I was younger. My son has a love of mysteries and "spies", so I thought that this would be a good movie for him to enjoy. He watched it twice the first day and has seen it several times over the last couple of weeks. It really appeals to younger mystery fans, even though it is rated PG-13, for violence. I would recommend any parent see this movie before they let their kids see it. Some of the violence is hallucinatory, and therefore quite "scary". I think the way it begins Holmes's and Watson's friendship is fun and creative. I think the script and characterizations are well done (especially in light of more current movies, which are just to draw viewers to the theater and have no substance.) The casting was inspired, and I don't see how they could have improved upon it. The cinematography was great and the special effects very good for the time of this movie. Some people might find Holmes's character a bit smug, but that is accurate to the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I recommend this movie to mystery fans, fans of Sherlock Holmes (but NOT "perfectionist" fans), and anyone who enjoys a young fellow showing up his elders.