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21 reviews in total 
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Leap Year (2010)
117 out of 163 people found the following review useful:
Most fun I've had at a theater in quite a while, 8 January 2010

I just got back from the theater under an hour ago, and am still in a good mood after having watched this. Some romantic comedies are more comedy than romance, or more romance than comedy, but this one blends the two into something especially delightful. I left the theater with more of a bounce in my step and a wide smile on my face, despite having had a not so great day.

It's not perfectly original--there were parts where I was able to say ahead of time precisely what was going to happen next--but it is not entirely formulaic, either. And there is something comfortable about the familiar, especially if it is done slightly different.

Matthew Goode surprised me in his role, and there the originality is quite refreshing. I hadn't realized exactly how limited of roles I am used to seeing the typical "rom-com" male fit into, until he kept breaking my expectations. And I like how real Amy Adams is: no harsh looking clavicle bones sticking out, minimal makeup, and her face hasn't been pinched and pulled into a tight canvas.

The Irish scenes are gorgeous, and the accents entertaining. And, I don't know if there was anyone else who was pleased, but I was ecstatic at this proof of a great romantic comedy kept within a PG rating. No embarrassing scenes to make mixed company awkward; no offensive profanity. It IS PG, of course, so don't expect "Little Mermaid" standards, but it was still incredibly clean for the genre. I have little brothers aged 7 and 9 (who I'm very protective of), and I would not have felt embarrassed to allow them to watch this.

Overall, a great show for the genre. The best I've seen in a long time. Not perfect, but if you're in it for entertainment and a feel-good story, rather than as a movie critic, I think you'll really enjoy it.

77 out of 102 people found the following review useful:
A shabby patchwork quilt of other movies' ideas, 19 March 2010

Just got back from the theater--walked in the door and turned on the computer--and am in agony! I was really excited about this movie and looking forward to seeing it ever since the previews came out. But, boy!, was I disappointed. All of the cute stuff (and pretty much the only cute stuff) was contained in those previews.

There is nothing original, and nothing funny enough or well-acted enough to make its unoriginality interesting. Jennifer Aniston did a decent job, given what she had to work with (though she does act like she does in most of her other movies). But the writing wasn't good, and the plot was weak and all over the place. Most everything you see, you've seen before--just done better somewhere else--and all of it combined into something very hodgepodge. It's like the storywriters just took a "pinch of this" and a "dash of that" from various comedies, romances, and action adventures, and tried to make a soup out of them.

The music was so bad I'm even giving it its own paragraph. I had no idea the music would make such a difference, normally I don't notice it's even there. Not so on this one! It was often agonizingly out of place, where you had to wonder what the score writers were thinking, or why they picked the song they did.

I left twice for the concession stand, and didn't even care to ask what had happened while I was gone. There were times I found that I was even having to remind myself to pay attention to the dialogue. As I don't go to the theater often, it's usually a treat to me, and most of the time I enjoy whatever I'm watching simply because it's relaxing and a chance to be out. But for once I was actually bored. It was about the quality of a TV show, but unfortunately lasted the length of a full movie.

The romantic/action with husband and wife fighting-yet-finding-they-might-still-love-each-other plot has been done before much better. "Mr and Mrs Smith" was GOOD. "Fool's Gold" was decent. "Bounty Hunter" was just downright poor. So disappointing!

53 out of 69 people found the following review useful:
Disappointing, if not disastrous, 4 June 2005

Believe it or not, I am under the age of 20 and have read this novel purely out of interest and found it to be an amazing piece of work. Thackeray's unique writing style in "Vanity Fair" is captivating. I saw the movie only a week after finishing the book, with the details fresh in my mind, to be immensely displeased. I have read a number of excellent comments that go into detail of the faults of the movie, so I plan to keep this brief for those wanting a shorter critique.

At least half of the characters were misrepresented. I believe the only two relatively-accurate main characters were Jos Sedley and Rawdon Crawley. Becky was completely dismantled into something with scarcely a semblance of what she is portrayed as in the book. The character Dobbin was undefined; George Osborne was snobbish instead of cocky; his rigid father suddenly became sympathetic (way too early and much too far); not to mention troves of other discrepancies. I understand the goal may have been to come up with a more abridged version, but there were changes made that had nothing to do with shortening the screenplay. Besides, there were a number of musical pieces that could have been cut in order to use the time more beneficially by preserving some of the integrity of the film.

Thackeray would have been appalled at this hack job.

Were it not for my love for time period films, and the possibility of enjoying this movie as something very separate from the book, I would not care to see it again. At least the filming was impressive, though that hardly makes up for the rest. The theatrical trailer is the best part of the movie.

58 out of 85 people found the following review useful:
Not Oscar-winning, but funny, 30 January 2010

Well, you may laugh, you may roll your eyes--you may do both simultaneously. Yes, it's a little cheesy; yes, the acting was not brilliant; yes, some of the gags seemed to repeat themselves. BUT, did I enjoy myself? Absolutely.

The humor mostly relies on a lot of physical comedy (people making blunders and bumping into things...), very little real "wit". I can't say even that the dialogue or the chemistry between the main actors was very good. But if you already know you're a sucker for romantic comedies (particularly heavily humor-laden ones, whether brilliant humor or otherwise), you will probably enjoy yourself. If you're the kind that is only rather surprised when you actually do find a romantic comedy you like, I really don't think you'll be finding it in this one.

No need to repeat the plot; the trailer says it all. And, really, with as simple a plot as it has, the trailer truly does pretty much say it ALL.

In short, it was relaxing and amusing (sometimes not the sort of amusing the director was going for, perhaps), and I enjoyed getting out of the house to go sit and catch a corny smile. Don't go if your demands or expectations are much higher.

31 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Chevy Chase = Fletch, 13 June 2005

What a sad world it is when people can sit back and gripe about "Fletch Lives". Tsk, tsk, tsk! First of all, how can anyone pick up a video with this sort of picture of Chevy Chase on the front and expect it to not be stupid--in the best possible sense! Indeed, I admit, the movie is stupid, but that is wholly what I love about it. Sure, if you want a more realistic mystery story, watch the first one. But for purely enjoying Chevy Chase's ridiculous antics, this one surpasses it. Though I can't imagine any other actor who could have pulled this script off and made it anything worthwhile! I generally end up watching this movie at least every few months and have yet to grow tired of it. And yet I have only recently added the first movie to my private collection.

Chevy Chase is one of the best out-and-out comedy actors available in my opinion. And you can't expect him to be serious in a movie that was intended to be anything but.

I think the best part about Chevy Chase as Fletch, is that he lives out those crazy ideas we sometimes get (such as convincing someone of invisible squealing bugs, simply telling someone their house is on fire, and marching into a corporation like you own the place), and he gets away with it when most of us don't dare in the first place. Perhaps the people who can't enjoy him simply don't get the same temptations, and therefore can't see why he appeals to those of us who have to repress the desire to introduce yourself as a famous sixteenth-century astrologer.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Thoughts from a Jane Austen fan..., 16 March 2013

The first episode of this is somewhat similar to a Jane Austen style story, though it is set in the mid-late 1700s rather than early 1800s. After the first episode or two, it becomes generally more serious and more broad. The costumes are very different from Austen films (being set in the preceding era), but they are very beautiful and very accurate to the time period. The dresses are much more glamorous, even though the men look rather sillier in my opinion.

I'm not sure how close this telling matches to the actual history of this family--I'm assuming there are at least some discrepancies--but even thinking it is at least based on real people and real stories makes it much more interesting to watch. To think that this wasn't simply invented by an author (no offense to Austen!) makes me much more tolerant of any lags or disagreeableness in "plot", since it's not supposed to be a contrived one. There are many, many characters, which may be hard for some people to keep track of who's who, and many decades are covered, so time sometimes passes in large chunks.

The film is a drama and deals with some very serious issues, to a greater extent than Austen ever delved into. Much of it is somber, but not really depressing. The movie is less of a source of "entertainment" than Austen films, but it is a great look at another era and the story is intriguing enough to keep you wondering what will happen next. It does not leave you so much with the blissful smile of contentment and happily ever after that an Austen story provides, but I felt like I had gotten to know and feel for the main characters, and learned some things about history in the process. It's a great choice if you're interested in venturing into another time period, rather than the Regency (Austen) or the far more common Victorian (Dickens, etc) eras.

This movie would be especially good for passing a lazy, rainy afternoon, when you'll feel more content with this milder sort of entertainment than what your expectations might be for a Friday night. Just get a cup of tea or cocoa and let yourself drift back to another time and world for a while.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Comparison with the book and with the 2015 version, 9 June 2015

I just finished writing my review for the 2015 version. I saw both versions within 2 weeks of each other for the first time and only 2 months after reading the book for the first time (absolutely loved it!!!).

Of the two movie versions I've seen, this is by far and away the more accurate of the two. Not surprising that Masterpiece Theater would trump Hollywood in that field, especially considering the runtime is twice as long. Granted that the 2015 version is much prettier to look at, I just think a digitally remastered Blu-ray release is what this version really needs. And new cover art! Rarely have I found such awful-looking cover art concealing such a good movie.

The actress for Bathsheba in this movie is way more age-appropriate (she's supposed to be about 18) for this part than Carey Mulligan (who just turned 30) in the new one. Her playfulness and flightiness make more sense at her young age. Paloma Baeza seems less confident as an actress than she is in "The Way We Live Now" (love her in that movie), but since the character Bathsheba is often conflicted about what she should do, it works for the role.

Oak and Troy were well-cast, I thought. The actor for Oak surprised me as a choice at first (I knew him best from the 1998 "Vanity Fair"), but then he seemed to fit quite well. And this Troy did a much better job than the one in the 2015 version, in my opinion.

I really did not like the actor for Boldwood at all at first (sorry, but he seems a bit creepy and his mouth always looks upside-down to me), but I'm watching this through a second time and he's bothering me much less than he did the first time, as I'm getting more used to him. He's still a bit too old for the part. Hardy describes him (I thought at the time I read it that it was a very clever description) thus: "Apparently he had some time ago reached that entrance to middle age at which a man's aspect naturally ceases to alter for the term of a dozen years or so.... Thirty-five and fifty were his limits of variation--he might have been either, or anywhere between the two." Nigel Terry was 53 at the time he made this, but easily looks 60 or older.

Just as a warning, there are a few brief scenes that are not appropriate for children. I tend to make the mistake sometimes in thinking that all PBS movies will be at PG standards (I wish they would), but that is not always the case. It is not extremely explicit (perhaps I will add a parental advisory note for this), but definitely gets to PG-13 content a few times.

Overall this is a very good and mostly faithful rendition of a great book. I'd venture to say that about 90% of this version is portrayed close (maybe shortened or adjusted for the screen, but generally true to the original characters' actions/intents) to what was in the book. And with almost 4 hours of viewing time, they are able to cover most of the story quite thoroughly, including spending some time showing the many minor characters as distinct individuals (which is something that the 2015 version has no time to do, to its loss, as much of the book is spent in the conversations of the farm hands).

I plan to watch this frequently, and if they do make a Blu-ray release, I plan to upgrade as soon as possible!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Comparison with the book and the 1998 version, 10 June 2015

I read this book for the first time about 2 months ago and loved it! I read a lot of classic literature, and many books I esteem better than enjoy, but this one I enjoyed far above average.

So how accurate was this movie to the book? Well, any classic novel cut down to 2 hours is naturally going to be missing pieces. I'd say that of the main events and important conversations, about 2/3 is present. (I was most astonished and dismayed at the total disappearance of an important scene between Boldwood and Troy outside of Bathsheba's house, and I think that they could have cut some of what they put in to keep this scene.) Of what is in the movie, I'd say that only about 2/3 of it actually happened the way it happened in the book.

Between these two numbers I've given you, I mean that the movie people cut stuff out from the book and added stuff in that wasn't in the book or changed it from the original intent. This is standard fare for Hollywood versions of great literature, and it wasn't a total botch. It was still enjoyable, still captured the essence of the original book and plot, and I hope to add it to my movie collection eventually.

That being said, I recently bought the 1998 PBS version (and saw it about 2 weeks before seeing this one at the theater), and it is by far the more accurate and more thorough of the two (being twice as long). The new one has better filming and a better soundtrack--it is definitely more aesthetically pleasing--but if you're a purist, or want to see some of the holes left in the story without having to read the book, try the PBS one. It's less of eye candy, but other than that, very well done.

One of my other big complaints about this version is that their actress for Bathsheba (though I like her in general) is simply getting too old to pull off this role convincingly. Bathsheba is about 18 years old in the book, and her immaturity is a big explanation for some of the foolish and flighty things she does. What is forgivable in an 18-year old is irritating or simply doesn't make sense in an actress who just turned 30. Carey Mulligan is still beautiful (I think she'd be more beautiful if she weren't so thin), but simply was a mismatch for this part.

I really think that the character of Boldwood was underdeveloped as a whole in this movie. A lot of his scenes were cut, so it's harder to understand him (without previous knowledge of the book or a longer movie), which is a shame because I think this actor was a way better choice than the one used for that role in the 1998 version.

Then the ending--I won't go into detail because I like to keep my reviews spoiler-free--but the big finale of the story completely falls flat because they altered so many little pieces of it (the main events happen, but not in the way or in the setting that they did in the book). Again, I think they should have stolen some extra minutes from somewhere else in the movie and put a little more effort into this. It's not enough of a problem to ruin the movie or make you walk out of it feeling bent out of shape (the very last 5 min or so are pleasing enough to leave you on a good note), but hopefully it will confuse or bother you just enough to make you want to read the book to see how it really panned out.

Overall, I did like the movie. It made for a relaxing evening in Victorian England, which I always love. It was beautiful to the eyes and ears. If you haven't read the book and like the movie, it's a good reason to go and read it! And if you didn't like the movie, it's a good reason to go read it, also, so you can find out why the book is better! :)

Comparison with the book and the 2008 version, 30 July 2015

Shortly after reading this book for the first time, I ordered this movie and loved it. I had had rather mixed feelings towards the book while reading it (kind of a love-hate relationship), and this film actually made me like the entire story much better. I liked it so much that only a couple weeks later I ordered the 2008 version, and just finished watching it last night. Wow, what a difference! Although the 2008 one has the advantage of some higher quality filming and an extra hour of screen time (more is usually better in my mind when it comes to my literature-based time period films), I found the newer to be considerably inferior to this one! This version has a MUCH better cast all around. I don't think you can beat this actress's rendition of Tess; I knew she was good in it, but couldn't fully appreciate HOW good until I saw the other version. 1998 Tess is way more convincing than 2008 Tess. My heart goes out to her, whereas 2008 Tess actually got on my nerves. 1998 Angel is much much better as well. The difference in both roles is astounding. I even thought the smaller parts, like Tess's parents and the other milkmaids, were better done in this one. The only exception I make, is that I did think the 2008 Alec D'Urberville more like how I pictured him when I read the book; 1998 Alec does a fine job, is more subtle in his portrayal, but simply does not match so much what I thought he would look and sound like.

Although there is an hour less in this film than the other, I still felt like this one is more generally accurate. I am much more tolerant of deletions from book to film (of course they can't fit everything in) than I am about alterations. There was more material in the 2008 version, but they took more liberties, which simply annoys me. This version, while it couldn't have every detail, what was there was very accurate for the most part. And it captures the story in its entirety quite well for its time constraints.

If you're a Jane Austen fan (as I am), understand that this is NOT a Jane Austen story, which tend to be like fairy tales with happy endings; there are "bad guys" in her books, but they are not a real hindrance to the real heroines. This is a grittier story, not set in the posh genteel society of the gentry and nobility; lots of low people, lots of hard labor, lots of reality. And there are the "bad guys", and then those characters which tread the line between "good" and "bad". It's definitely more complex, definitely more drama, but very worthwhile if you're up to it and know what you're getting into. If it is your first experience with this story, don't expect your viewing to be a relaxing ride. There is plenty to make you furious, happy, sad...lots of strong emotions.

When I first read this book, it was something of an emotional roller coaster (I'd absolutely adore one character, only to hate them intensely a few chapters later, and so on), but now that I'm more familiar with the story, I can appreciate it better. It sinks under your skin and makes you keep thinking about it. This movie leaves you like that, too. It's an excellent rendition of an excellent book.

Nowhere near the book, but even better!, 29 June 2015

99% of the time I'm a staunch purist. A classic book should be portrayed on film as close to the original as possible, leaving room for the necessary conversions of text to screen. That being said, there are exceptions to every rule, and this movie is one of them.

I had not read the book prior to watching this movie, but had read IMDb reviews that it was far from accurate, so I was skeptical going into it. The movie, in fact, was outstanding! I was riveted, drawn into the story, and anxious to find out what happened next. It was fascinating and intriguing. I think the best comparison I can make with it is a Dickens story set about 150 years earlier than his books. It's dark and gritty, highlighting the lowlifes of society and the shortcomings of the society that contributes to make these lowlifes. Yet there is considerable irony and a bit of humor to counteract the darkness. Love, life, death, joy, grief, sickness, deprivation, aspiration.... It is in short a microcosm of life as it is today, but through the window of days past. One feels the emotions that the characters are experiencing, because they are feelings we've already experienced ourselves. However, although this movie is frequently tragic, it is not a tragedy. I could not recommend it so highly if it was, because I don't like to walk away from a movie feeling depressed.

I liked the movie so much that I began reading the book that very night, and I finished it 8 days later. Where did the book differ from the movie? It would be easier to state where they resembled each other! I would have been hard-pressed to see any similarity between the two had they been published under different titles. For one thing, the book covers the title character's entire life up past the age of 60, whereas the movie only takes her up to maybe 30, and what goes on in that time frame is widely different from what goes on in the book.

In the movie makers' defense, they do have in the opening credits the following caveat: "Based on a character in a novel by Daniel Defoe". Okay, so it's based on the CHARACTER of Moll Flanders, not on the story itself. That's a legitimate, though tiny-print, concept. However, even the CHARACTER of Moll Flanders in the movie is quite different from the book. One big digression (out of many) is that movie-Moll has strong paternal, motherly characteristics, whereas book-Moll has essentially none. Secondly, Moll's name isn't even really Moll in the book; it never tells us her real name, and "Moll Flanders" is merely one of her many aliases, and one that she doesn't pick up until her 50s.

I can't possibly go into all the digressions. It would be boring and overextend the 1000 words limit. Suffice it to say, there is scarcely a shadow of similarity between the one and the other. If you have read the book, disregard the title and watch this as its own entity. If you haven't read the book, no need to worry about seeing any spoilers that might ruin a future reading. There is almost no overlap.

However, in spite of this "sin" of gross inaccuracy, I LOVED the movie, and I thought the book was only mediocre. The movie had a great plot development; the book has almost no plot. It was first published in 1722 and, like much early fiction, is mostly just a chain of events. We are told the many escapades of Moll Flanders, but there is no real story arc. (I'm not saying don't read it, just know what you're getting into; it's interesting, but not terribly fulfilling as a novel, in the modern sense of the genre.)

I was impressed with Robin Wright's performance (as Moll). I had thought little of her acting in "Princess Bride", and almost didn't watch the film because she had the title role; but she did a much better job in this film, and showed a much fuller range of acting ability and emotion. The other actors also filled their roles superbly. And the settings and costumes were magnificently done.

One thing that may affect your opinion of this movie is the content. By all standards I've ever watched, this ought to be R-rated. It's not extremely explicit (hence it is not in fact R), but it is considerably so for a PG-13, and I would be cautious showing this to young viewers. Not just for sexuality, but also for some rather graphic scenes (including blood) and overall mature themes.

However, for a mature viewer I think this was a fantastic movie with a great storyline. It's very thought-provoking, and the impression of it still lingers with me a couple weeks later. The writers used Defoe's book as a springboard to better ideas and a more cohesive and rewarding story. It would have been more accurate to have said that it was "inspired by" Defoe's book, rather than "based on", but it is one of those rare cases where the movie is in fact better than the book.

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