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Straight Into Darkness (2004)
Well done but depressing and violent (though not that bad for a war movie)
In Europe during World War II, Losey and Deming are deserters. One of the MPs calls Losey "Airborne" because he doesn't think much of the 82nd Airborne, or of "men who jump out of perfectly good airplanes." An explosion knocks the jeep off the road and at least one of the MPs is dead. A couple of others die after they encounter mines trying to get back to civilization. Deming swaps dog tags with one of the dead men, declares himself to be free, and orders Losey to come along.
Deming has no compassion and constantly yells "Quit squawking and start walking." He also uses a lot of other language that didn't make it to broadcast TV. Losey does show compassion to others, though. Soon the men encounter a church that is mostly destroyed, and a priest who was driven mad. It appears the priest will come with them, but at some point he is no longer around. The men also find a horse which helps them reach a better destination.
Every now and then we see what are either flashbacks of a better life in the United States, or visions of the war. One vision takes place in what is left of what appears to be a school. We see a teacher and happy children, whose lives are devastated by the war.
Most of the movie takes place in a large industrial looking building, the type preservationists want to save in today's world. This one is in pretty bad shape, but the men see no real value to it for the Germans. Then two civilians show up. We have seen the woman before. Maybe it's the hair, but she looks like Susan Sarandon. Looking at the cast list and the actors' photos, I think she is Maria, played by Linda Thorson. A man is with her, and he is tough and a leader. His voice sounds like the man who used to introduce Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, but beyond that, I don't know which one he is. What is important that these two are taking care of a group of children, some of whom don't understand this isn't a game. One boy has no legs but has a lot of determination and gets around well. A girl, who Losey realizes was once beautiful when he sees a painting of her, wears a mask.
Deming points a gun at the woman and demands to see everything, but declares her to be no Betty Grable. Later, everyone has to work together when a German unit shows up. And what happens then is pretty amazing.
This appears to be a good movie, for those who like this sort of thing. There's not a lot of happiness here, but we see people get things done and stand tall despite obstacles, even though the two stars are nothing more than cowards at the beginning.
The main adult actors all give good performances. I would also add the German officer to that list. He is not evil but just doing his job. At one point he states that he feels like a father to his men.
The children do a great job, and I would single out the boy with no legs and the girl with no mask, even though neither says a word. You can just see their determination and courage.
A few years ago a TV detective lost either his wife or his son in a car accident. When the son was alive everything appeared blue. That's how much of the movie is. Colors are much more vivid in the flashbacks and visions, though in one case Losey is having a nightmare and everything quickly turns blue, followed by bright orange when there are explosions. It's quite an effective technique. I do wish the brightly colored flashbacks had lasted longer and had more character development, because we really needed positive images.
It's quite good if you like this sort of thing.
Exciting thriller with only the essentials
Just before 6 P.M. halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, terrorists arrive by parachute at the San Juan Nuclear Plant. Security is not quite up to standard--one guy has to look at the manual. Several people die, including at least one cop who happens to be outside. His partner survives and will soon play a critical role in stopping this incident. It's not long before the terrorists arrive in the control room, and then anything is possible. The man in charge of the control room tries to persuade the terrorists not to do what he thinks they will do, and of course they need him, so he will be around.
A Fox news anchor appears on TV and explains what has happened, and soon an evacuation is ordered within a 5-mile radius. It's not enough, but you try getting 25 million people away from the next Chernobyl. The freeways end up as parking lots as it is, and people are already panicking, even as people on TV try to assure the public everything is going to be all right. Well, everything is not going to be all right. Depending on what the terrorists decide to do, the death toll could be equal to Hiroshima, or worse. That's not counting maybe a million people who will die later. But we can't tell the public this. Homeland Chief Utley lies like a politician making sure the public feels reassured, when they have no reason to be.
The President is on his way back to the U.S., while the VP is in a bunker. Officials at the White House seem to know what they are doing, but do they really? Homeland Security declares a red threat level for the first time in its existence. The world soon takes notice of this incident, and there is panic and looting, though we don't really see that, or the traffic jams. There is what appears to be stock footage (not made for the movie, in other words) on the newscast, representing what is really happening out there. Experts give their opinions.
The terrorists have accents and the head guy known as Khalid quotes the Qu'ran. But they don't really seem to do anything. What if it is all just a warning? And what is it a warning about? Maybe all they are doing is showing how lax security is at a nuclear plant even after 9-11.
Investigators on the outside have to find out details, and if you know something, you'd better tell them. They're not kidding around. Meanwhile, nuclear attacks on the Middle East are being considered.
This is not just your ordinary action/thriller. We are kept guessing constantly about what might happen. We mainly see what is essential, and details of the lives of those affected are pretty much left out. There are no background stories unless we need to hear them. Editing is rapid fire and if we have seen all we need to see, the action quickly switches to something else. For example, Mika is the reporter on the scene. In her first report, we spend more time watching her put on makeup than seeing what she actually has to say. We pretty much know, so that's not essential.
Camera work is quite unusual. Different angles in the same scene might be black and white while others are color. At first I thought the black and white was security footage, but most of the time the cameras are moving--mostly shaking. It may be somewhat unsettling but it's effective. And of course I mentioned the editing.
There is lots of good acting here. Bruce Greenwood is Tom Shea, the man in charge, who's not supposed to be but his superior is elsewhere and it will take time for him to get back. Shea was not happy with the results of the U.S.S. Cole attack and got himself demoted. But he knows what he's doing. Arnold Vosloo is the terrorist in charge. I'm going to guess that Manoj Sood is in charge of the control room, the man who desperately tries to keep the terrorists from doing anything harmful.
And the standout performer is Leslie Hope, the cop who is nervous and in pain after being shot while wearing a vest (this saves your life but doesn't prevent pain). She tries really hard and finds some valuable information.
Robert Kovacik, the dedicated news anchor, must cope with whatever comes his way. Live television has its problems, but he deals with them. He's so professional I figured he might be real, and the credits say he plays himself. Dagmar Midcap as the reporter on the scene lacks personality and doesn't seem much like a real journalist, but that's just because of the current state of journalism, where cute babes seem to matter more than hard news. She's attractive and gets the information across.
Two experts are listed in the credits as themselves. Dr. Jim Walsh seems quite nervous, which doesn't inspire confidence, but I guess there is realism there. David Rapoport comes across as calmer and more professional.
One thing bothered me about the news coverage. At times the entire screen is filled, with the anchor in the middle, graphics, and a crawl at the bottom, as if we are seeing what people actually see on TV. When people are being interviewed, a lot of that information goes away. That's not a big deal, I guess, because we're not actually watching the newscast, but it would have been more effective to show the TV screen exactly as others might have seen it.
It's a worthy effort with some important lessons about what this country's most vulnerable sites ought to be doing.
Back in the Day (2014)
Entertaining, funny, and disgusting
The movie begins with Jim's commercial for All City Insurance.
In Los Angeles, Jim is not a successful insurance executive, or even a successful actor. He is known for those commercials, and people sometimes sit on his face because insurance ads are used on benches. When he returns home after a difficult commute on The 405, during which we are subjected for what passes for music in today's world, he checks his telephone messages. One is from his agent, who has more bad news for him. Another is an invitation to come back to Newberg for the Castle High School Class of 1994 reunion. He also got an invitation in the mail. The state where Newberg is located is not mentioned as far as I know, but the local mall has "Washington" in its name. It's not in California because it is mentioned that Jim left the state. Jim has not returned home in years because he feels like a failure. In a flashback, with actual music by Air Supply, Jim is having a good time with his friends and someone is naked.
Jim has to fly to Newberg, and when he arrives, his loser friends are there to meet him. Actually, Len and T seem mature, but Skunk and Freeman might as well still be in high school.
The guys go to a bar called The Knob, where they meet Angie, who slept with everyone and is pregnant for either the third or fourth time (I forget), yet she smokes, drinks, and wears extremely short skirts and hates her kids. Then Laurie walks in. She dated Jim in high school but they lost touch. Now she's marrying Mark, and seeing Mark reminds Jim or a highlight of his high school football career.
The group gets together for a barbecue and the guys play some bizarre ball game. Skunk, who was drunk earlier, shows up having been the victim of a prank, which ended with him naked in a neighbor's pickup truck. Jim and Laurie have a good time together but they are just friends. Nothing more. It's not like Jim wants Laurie to stop the wedding.
At last it is time for the reunion, but Mark has his bachelor party. Jim picks up Laurie in his red 1969 Mustang, which actually belongs to Len. Skunk shows up with his wife Carol, who doesn't like her husband to be called that, and the guys have trouble remembering that his real name is Stuart. Principal Teagley is positively evil. I don't mean the character you love to hate, like Lex Luthor. I mean he is evil. He makes a threat that cannot be said on broadcast TV, but even these guys are shocked by it. Jim and his friends are and always have been losers, and that's the way Teagley continues to treat them. The guys play a great prank on him later.
Jim and Laurie have a good time once again, and one gets the impression they might end up together. Mark has problems at his bachelor party, and there is reason for hope. After the reunion comes one of the movies funniest scenes, which involves vomiting. No, it's not the vomiting that's so funny, but just the outrageous situations.
Both Skunk and Freeman show they are more than just losers.
So will Jim and Laurie get together again? I can say this much: as in most movies where the guy is marrying the wrong girl or the girl is marrying the wrong guy, there is one of those exciting and bizarre scenes.
Morena Baccarin shows the talent that later got her a role in the respected TV series "Gotham". her character is really likable, and she's one of the few intelligent people in the movie.
Michael Rosenbaum actually wrote and directed this, in addition to starring. My expectations of him may be a little high because of his outstanding role in "Smallville", but he does a good job here. If you're expecting an ordinary but overly silly romantic comedy, and not a masterpiece, this is pretty good.
Is this fun for the whole family? Not even when cleaned up for broadcast. I hope I've provided enough hints. If not, let me say that at times every other sentence has a character's mouth blurred briefly with no sound. Skunk and his wife like S & M. One of the characters does Sharon Stone's move from "Basic Instinct". I've mentioned several scenes with nudity because of pranks or whatever.
Still, if you can handle Seth McFarlane's Fox sitcoms, you might be able to enjoy this.
Be sure and stay around for the outtakes with the closing credits!
Awful Nice (2013)
Not awful, but not very nice either, and frequently funny
Dave is a loser who hasn't held any job for very long, though he claims to have helped build houses after Hurricane Katrina. He moves from place to place, and his sensible brother Jim has finally found him in a wigwam on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. Jim had to find Dave because their father ("The Colonel") died. So they go back to Kansas City for the funeral.
Dinner with the family is awkward and unpleasant. What the brothers did should never happen on such a solemn occasion. But once they finish with the funeral, the brothers have to claim their inheritance, which includes a cabin on the lake near Branson, Missouri.
Can you say road trip?
The brothers don't get along all that well. Jim went to college and has a job and a family, and Dave doesn't seem to care about much other than having a good time. And when they finally arrive at the cabin, it's a dump. Should they just tear it down, sell the property and split the money? Although there is a lot of great memorabilia, and a huge sports card collection. Dave's main interest is his Alonzo Mourning rookie card.
Before they decide to do anything, the brothers have to meet with The Colonel's business partner Jon Charbineau, who is quite a character and looks like a relic from a 70s action TV series. Well, at least he's not wearing a polyester leisure suit. His clothes actually look normal. It's just his face, hair, and sunglasses. There is money, and there are coupons for Branson attractions. The brothers ... well, Dave ... takes full advantage of the chance to enjoy this tacky tourist mecca. The cabin is too much of a dump so they rent a motel room from another guy who is quite a character. No, I don't know his name. But he pranks the brothers good. It might have worked except no one else is in sight.
Dave has a great scene when he tries--in a bathrobe--to eat from a fancy hotel's buffet when he's not even a guest. He manages to break the law enough times that the brothers meet Sheriff Wegman and Deputy Bruce, who play "good cop, bad cop". Both cops play both parts, but Bruce is funnier. And dumber.
As the brothers decide to fix up the cabin, they have a number of adventures and meet interesting people. Lauren is a nice normal girl who used to date Jim. Petra is a beautiful and friendly immigrant waitress who might be a hooker. I think Ivan is the man Jim decided to hire to fix up the cabin when the brothers realized they were The Three Stooges ("That's coming out of my half" "That's coming out of your half."). Also, I recognized the voice of Yakov Smirnoff but didn't realize that was really him until the credits.
Overall, the brothers show us a good time, sometimes silly, sometimes serious and often funny. They get along better in some scenes than they do in others, and sometimes they want to kill each other. And I was very grateful this was on broadcast TV, because the sound went out so often (along with the speaker's mouth being blurred) it was sometimes hard to follow what was going on, but I really don't think I would want to hear what I missed. I mean I really didn't.
You have to stay around for the closing credits. Not just because of all the funny stuff in the credits themselves (I have never seen some of the wacky stuff that was done), but also the great musical performance on the left side of the screen. I hesitate to call it bluegrass not only because I'm not sure you can have drums in bluegrass, but also because Dr. Ralph Stanley once said what he does is old time, not bluegrass. It's actually a nice polished but heavily traditional sound with fiddles and banjo.
It's not a bad movie if you can see it cleaned up.
Crazy, wacky disgusting adventure
I really needed this. The day before I saw this movie I saw one movie that was terrible and one that was good but depressing. That's what happens when you're cheap and you just watch what's on, even if you use a DVR to see it later. And with this movie, a DVR or other recording device is essential. You want to see everything happen. Or maybe you don't. I don't recommend eating while you watch this.
Robin Williams doesn't do his best work here, but if all you want is to see this master play a normal father with the ability for the slapstick and stand-up styles of comedy, you couldn't do much better. His presentation in Boulder is brief but amazing. There's a second presentation that is also quite good but not ideal for a business professional; it's more suited to, say, a corny movie that teaches a moral lesson. And he does the normal father scenes quite well.
JoJo Levesque is ideal as a spoiled teenager who learns what is important in life and can even show a mature side. She starts out (what-EVER) as quite a contrast to the adorable Erika-Shaye Gair we saw a few minutes earlier. And she can SING! You have to stay around for the closing credits. Not everyone in this cast has singing talent, but she does.
Cheryl Hines is quite likable and amazingly tolerant. And she looks good here. I think the difference is she doesn't smile much. She doesn't have much to smile about. But when she does, it's not that gigantic smile.
Kristin Chenoweth makes the most of her role as the matriarch of the annoying Gornicke family that keeps showing up to make our heroes miserable. You have to like her, unless you're the Munros. She looks great and isn't ashamed to show off her ... chest. She has a magnificent singing voice and even shows her operatic talent in performing something corny.
Jeff Daniels is likable and actually intelligent. For his role, I would have expected someone more like Organ Stew Guy. He was introduced at a time when poor Bob needed someone with brains to clean up the literal mess made by the bumbling Howie and Joe Joe. But for the annoying rednecks, I didn't think intelligence would be required. I was wrong, and he plays a great character.
I've mentioned music several times. There's a lot of good music here. Most of it is instrumental country music, but I don't need words to enjoy it. When there are words, they are mostly the silly words that you would expect kids to hate. Hines doesn't mind being silly and embarrassing her kids, who have their own "music" (it doesn't qualify).
Colorado has magnificent scenery. I can't say enough about it. North Carolina's mountains are beautiful, but I don't think we have anything to compare to this. And yet the credits mention Canada. So this is actually Canada? Wherever it is, it's enough to drive home the lesson this family has needed to learn. Who needs Hawaii? Utah's not bad either. Great rock formations. For some reason, no trees grow until you reach the border.
And we do learn some important lessons here. We have the evil boss who doesn't seem to care about family and probably wouldn't appreciate nature either. And Laird, the young upstart who might replace Bob who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Brilliant, but no people skills. So once it becomes clear people like this aren't the ones you should consider important in life, our heroes find out what really makes life worth living.
Is it appropriate for the whole family? Of course. If your family likes potty humor. I can see some strict parents not wanting their kids anywhere near this. But it's a fun adventure if you can handle it.
All Things to All Men (2013)
Not all things to everyone
When a movie I see on TV starts with the logo for popcornflix.com, I know that I likely can't count on too much appearing on IMDb, so I watch these movies more carefully to provide IMDb with as much information as I can. In this case it didn't help. I had no idea what was going on. A car blew up and a man in bed with a beautiful woman got a phone call. There were cops in London, some of whom were apparently corrupt, and a rich man who wanted to get his drug dealing son out of trouble. I think one of the cops may have gone undercover, but I'm not sure. I couldn't remember which person was which. There was a car chase which was pretty good. There was a chase on foot that was also somewhat exciting. London was interesting to look at, if that was where the movie was set. There was a fascinating futuristic glass-walled room high in the air that overlooked a river. The Thames?
I saw what looked like that scene from "Mission: Impossible", but if you enjoyed that scene, there's really nothing here. That sequence ends with rappelling down a building, but it's not a big deal. I remember one really good acting performance from Terence Maynard, who ended up being tougher than he looked at first.
Do I have any more to say? Not really.
Cute but edgy romantic comedy
In this movie, everyone has a Blackberry. Apparently the current generation of smartphones had not been invented. And everyone is always texting.
Breslin is a financial adviser, but he's not doing too well right now and if he loses one more client, his boss Kara will fire him. One reason for his current problems is that six months ago he and Erin were supposed to get married, but something happened. We saw their romance in the opening credits, but with no audio other than an enjoyable song by Ray Charles. dates several other women, including waitress Heather and art teacher Dina (who is demanding a commitment)--and his boss.
Simone has a blog "Simone Says", and she is an artist (Dina is her art teacher) who refuses to sell her paintings, though she's quite good. It's never clear how she makes money. She is dating four men. Clive has money and is obsessed with her. Marcus is in the NBA. Colin is a loser in a band. And Jacob has to call his mother to pick him up, and he's a germophobe. Actually, as I look at the photos of the last two, I'm not absolutely sure I've got their names right. Of the four, Marcus has the best personality. However ...
Mike has inherited a lot of money and appears to be Breslin's best friend, though at one point it appears Breslin has to please Mike so Mike won't drop him, which would cause Kara to fire him. Mike is the standout character in this movie, so it is fortunate that we see him and Breslin together at the grocery store, Mike's job delivering newspapers (and not very well), and in a senior bowling league. No, Mike's not a senior, and the others on his team are mostly stereotypes--oxygen tank, walker, and so on. One man seems fine and gives advice.
There's only one reason we would be following these separate story lines. Yes, Breslin and Simone have a "meet cute" moment and she hates him at first. Simone hates texting so Breslin agrees to speak on the phone instead. But they are both quite attracted to each other and it is clear that for both of them the relationship will be more meaningful than the other relationships they are having. By the way, Dina doesn't know about Simone and Breslin.
Eventually, Breslin and Simone have problems, so the question is will they once again discover how much they mean to each other. And what about the other relationships each one is having?
This is a cute movie, if somewhat edgy. The sound went out a lot, which seems unnecessary. It was sometimes hard to follow what was being said. That's how bad it was. Do we really need that much bad language to tell a story?
I never watched an episode of "Will and Grace", so I'm not sure why I felt Eric McCormack should have been more appealing. I don't even know the man. But here he's supposed to be a jerk, and he does that well.
Liam Card, as I've mentioned, gives the standout performance, and Carly Pope is quite good as Simone, though I'm not that crazy about her. And Kristen Hager, as Dani, does a great job in the scene where she is showing her own art.
And about the art. Of course, I'm not a person who would truly appreciate art that doesn't look like what it represents. But I would say the artists whose work is shown in this movie are talented.
On the subject of Ray Charles, why is one of his biggest hits performed here by someone else, with RAP? And why were we given the impression the music was going to be good? One good song at the beginning, and maybe a few others, and four scenes with nice instrumental music. But for me, the music wasn't that good overall.
A curious choice made early in the movie: isn't art class supposed to be colorful? I'm sure there is some artistic reason for this, but everything looks brown. It's like that TV series a few years back where the detective and his family were in a car accident. If his son survived, everything was blue. Then he would wake up and it was his wife who survived, and everything with yellow and orange. There's a name for this.
Overall, I think this is more than just the ordinary romantic comedy.
Somewhere Slow (2013)
Interesting romantic adventure
In Wilmington, Delaware, Anna sells beauty products to doctors for Beutanical Gardens. She is so nice and compliments everyone, but she is also insecure about her appearance because she thought she was ugly as a child. She shouldn't be because she is quite pretty, even in one scene where someone else points out that she isn't wearing makeup.
In a fast food place, Anna seems to be ordering for several people. No, it's all for her. And then it's straight to the bathroom to throw up. She also smokes a lot and is obsessive-compulsive at times.
Anna and Robert celebrate their first anniversary in a nice restaurant. She doesn't want ice cream afterward, but she ends up eating it anyway.
After being told she is being let go because she's not good enough at her job, Anna takes her product samples with her despite being told not to. Then she visits her mother, who waits on her and does things for her even though she is dying of cancer. Anna's sister, who seems to be taking care of their mother, is upset at Anna's irresponsible behavior, including going outside and smoking.
When Anna is out driving, she is nearly out of gas and her cell phone needs to be charged. She goes to a store and you would think she is getting gas or at least a cell phone charger. No, her priority is cigarettes. This may have been a good thing.
Something happens in that store that leads Anna to jump on a nearby bus which happens to be heading for Maine. Her father's family had a cottage near a nuclear power plant in Massachusetts. Yes, Massachusetts isn't that close and the one nuclear plant in the state isn't anywhere close to the border and doesn't even look like this one. Maybe I missed some detail, but it's likely the movie's writers weren't trying for accuracy.
When the bus stops, Anna meets Danny. Or is it Jason? Actually, it's Travis. Danny/Jason/Travis is a Mormon who has rejected his faith because he's tired of being told what to do. He has friends near where the bus lets them off in Boston. Danny steals a car (though Anna probably had the money to rent one) and they head for Paul's house.
Paul and his friends are losers who use drugs. Paul also makes porn. So the couple doesn't stay there long. Eventually they end up in the pleasant seaside community where Kennedys might live, but the cottage isn't that nice. Anna is reluctant to stay in her family's cottage since someone else owns it, but Danny breaks in and they treat it like the family still owns it. Until a neighbor starts snooping around.
Up to this point, the movie has been an adventure, occasionally funny. Now the action slows down, and the couple talk about all sorts of things going on in their lives, and the movie is more of a romance. Nothing really has to happen because these two are so appealing. At one point there is conflict, and we hope for the couple to resolve the conflict. And when Anna finally recharges her phone, she has numerous messages. We get to listen to all of them, and it's quite effective.
About that conflict: Several weeks ago I saw Julia Roberts in "Eat, Pray, Love". Anna has something in common with Roberts' character. Both ran away from what some would call a perfect life. Actually, Roberts' character came closer to having a perfect life, but both she and Anna are told their lives were too perfect for them to just go on the run. In Anna's case there may have been more justification, but her life wasn't really that bad.
Jessalyn Gilsig is so likable despite her character's flaws, and Graham Patrick Martin, whoever he is, does a good job too. They make a nice couple. And when there is conflict, it gives them a chance to show how really talented they are.
David Costabile, as the husband, does his best work in the phone messages.
The scenery is pretty and, true to the title, the cottage is "somewhere slow" compared to the hectic life both characters have had.
There are some curious editing choices. At one point the audio is the couple in bed, while the video is them changing clothes. A similar situation exists later on where the action jumps back and forth between inside and outside.
What I believe to be the f-word gets used a few times, but the version of the movie I saw doesn't seem too bad. It's not quite family-friendly but not too bad.
It's a mostly pleasant effort if you can ignore all the laws being broken.
An Affirmative Act (2010)
Not your ordinary inspirational movie about people overcoming discrimination
In New Jersey, Terry and Samantha and their young son Mario look like an ordinary family. I knew this was a movie about a lesbian couple but Terry had five o'clock shadow, so he must be a man and the lesbians come along later, right? But he does have a really high voice.
Samantha is a law professor and really smart. We see how good she is with her class. We are told Terry is an architect but don't see Terry at work.
The way the couple talk when they are out walking the baby, they indicate they have a reason to think people don't accept them. Neighbor John is a lawyer but doesn't seem that nice. But his hot wife Christy is friendly and the couple invite them over.
Then one day cops show up and arrest the couple for deception. Terry pretended to be a man so the couple could marry and adopt.
The governor appears to be terminally ill. He wants the couple to plead guilty because he doesn't want to attract national attention.
At first, Rollie is the couple's lawyer. But they want John and he finally agrees. Samantha shows she really knows the law (of course she does, but she doesn't have books with her) as the couple learn what they have to do. They are told to plead guilty, which will get them seven years. Now who would do that? But finally, they get a deal involving no jail time and a small fine, and not even probation. Samantha agrees. After all, they did lie; charges could be dropped or a jury could find that because they couldn't legally marry, they had to lie in order to do what they wanted.
Okay, done! 40 minutes (including commercials) into a 2-hour movie. Something else has to happen, right? Of course it does.
When they make their court appearance, Lori Belmont is the prosecutor, and she is also handling the case of Dixie Backus. More about him later. Judge Nicholas Frier is the judge in both cases as well. Lori is overly enthusiastic about making sure the women get punished. And I think we all know what will happen.
But this isn't some warm and fuzzy inspirational Lifetime movie. There are threats, protests, and a very violent video starring Charles Durning as a man in a white suit. Where he is THE man in the white suit that people are afraid of, we don't know.
To say the governor is not pleased is an understatement. Meanwhile, among those protesting this attack on our values is Backus, who appears to be a rich man who gets what he wants, who has a swastika and a Confederate battle flag in his office.
Both Lori and John go overboard, taking actions in court that result in objections from the other side. Meanwhile, it turns out Christy has a brain. She investigates for her husband, and this results in a truly funny scene where she wears too much makeup and shows off her other ... assets. I mention the humor because sometimes the music suggests humor when I didn't see any. But there are occasional laughs.
There is plenty of controversy to be uncovered, and one more funny character who seems to be gay, but I don't know his name.
And things get really crazy before the end. You won't see this coming, because I don't know that any other movie like this has ended this way. But it is a satisfying ending.
Charles Durning gives his usual fine performance, and Costas Mandylor is quite good as his partner in the video. We're never quite sure what's going on, but I think the video is supposed to be promoting family values and opposing what the women are trying to promote.
Eric Etebari and Rachael Robbins both give really good performances as the lawyer and investigator who are married to each other. And so does Ed Kershen as the judge. I don't know who any of these people are, but they all do a good job.
I was also impressed by Charles Grady as the detective.
And Elissa Goldstein does a great job as the prettier of the two women who are married. She is really likable. I can't say the same for Candice Holdorf, who was trying to be the man, but she has her good moments, mostly later. She does emotional and passionate really well.
Is it worth seeing? It's certainly different, and while it's no masterpiece, this movie has a cause to promote and does that, even if it is heavy on the antiquated extremist values.
Angel Dog (2011)
Mostly pleasant feel-good family film
In Texas, Jake decided to work while his wife Elizabeth and his kids went on a vacation trip. After a terrible car accident, only the black and white collie Cooper survived. The cop who found a veterinary hospital near Cooper's house didn't give enough information, so when no one responded when they called, they assumed he didn't care about the dog and, had there not been enough room, Cooper would have been put to sleep.
In fact, Jake was so distraught over the loss of his family that he couldn't do much of anything for days. Janice (not sure who she is) finally got him to do something, and he finally showed up to pick up Cooper. Who wouldn't get in the vehicle. So Jake walked him home. And for reasons that make no sense, except for the fact that they allow Dr. Mason to be obsessed with Jake ... I mean Cooper, Jake doesn't take the vehicle home. Instead, he comes to the vet's office day after day to train the dog to get in the vehicle. And the staff keep watching him.
At first, Jake gave us the impression he resented the dog for surviving when the rest of the family did not. In flashbacks, we see that the family found him and advertised hoping to find out who lost him. When no one claimed the dog, Cooper was theirs, though Jake didn't seem all that enthusiastic.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mason has her own problems. Her mother has given up on life and only wants to drink. She is now in an assisted living facility with her gray and white cat. Could the dog eventually be helping her? Well, no. At least for now, the miracle dog is giving Jake a reason to live. And Jake, who didn't show up for work for the longest time, quits his job because he wants to do something else. He taught daughter Abby about photography and making videos Eventually he is shown at what must be Abby's school, and I assume this means he is a teacher now, but we aren't really told. But a computer lab has Abby's name on it.
So where does the movie's title come from? We do know the dog was a desperately needed companion for Jake. But Dr. Mason still has her mother to deal with, and things aren't getting any better. And I get the impression she likes Jake, and vice versa. They have reasons to get together (for one thing, the dog does need a vet), and who knows? Meanwhile, what about the former owners of the dog? And what about the girl in the park who looks sick? Maybe this miracle dog will have other opportunities.
This is a pleasant enough movie, most of the time. Sure, it is sad sometimes. Dr. Mason commented on how she gets emotional, and anyone who does will need plenty of Kleenex for this. But it is also a movie the whole family can watch.
Jake takes some getting used to but he's mostly likable.
Dr. Mason is pretty and shows us a whole range of emotions, but she mostly makes us like her.
Nita who works in the office, is so nice and wears the prettiest tops. And if you like one, she'll wear it again at least a couple of times.
Trey seems to be a nurse and he is funny. We do get to laugh from time to time.
Cooper is played by two dogs, according to the credits. He's quite well trained.
And Bobbie and Seth are a nice older couple. I can't say much about them because it's better to learn about them when the time comes.
The music is mostly pleasant, although there is a lot of music performed by Peter Himmelman, who sounds sort of like Bob Dylan. Not really what I like, but not too bad either. One song called "Shine" is quite catchy and if adult contemporary radio hadn't changed so much in recent years, it would fit right in there.
It's an okay movie if you just want to feel good.