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jimchudnow-1

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Dhoom 3 (2013)
30 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
''Dhoom'' means BANG, & the movie has a LOT of those to recommend it!, 21 December 2013

This film was shot mainly in Chicago in the second half of 2012). It continues the series' touchstones of "ACTION" crime drama with the addition of "Bollywood" musical numbers...

... The movie (which is nearly 3 hours long) starts with showing a background of "dispute" scenes shot in India with Uday Chopra & Abhishek Bachchan). It then moves to numerous CHICAGO locations. The film is mostly in English, with subtitles for certain Hindi segments...

... It's beautifully PHOTOGRAPHED, + excellently EDITED & ACTED (especially by Aamir Khan)... I was impressed by numerous great STUNTS - SPECIAL EFFECTS action scenes. (That's why I said it has a LOT of "bangs" inherent in it!)...

... Plus, I enjoyed the catchy & fine MUSICAL numbers and sets...

... I found it to be a lot of FUN overall, with a bunch of unexpected "twists" in the story-line... I'd thus rate it at 8.5 out of 10 stars...

5 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A MISH-MOSH, By Gosh!, 25 March 2011
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I saw the trailers for this film, it seemed very "STRANGE" & likely to be very "confusing" & "silly"... After seeing the whole movie, I must say I was RIGHT in my instincts...

... I will try to give you the "plot"-- but, be warned, it will not make much "sense"-- which ALSO is pretty "accurate": ... Baby Doll (EMILY BROWNING) lives in a creepy house-- with an even creepier Stepfather (GERARD PLUNKETT). He's a predator, attacks her & her sister after their mother dies, &, when she "resists" him, he puts her in a MENTAL asylum for women...

... That place is run by an evil self-centered young shark named Blue Jones (OSCAR ISAAC), who wants to sink his "teeth" (& other areas) into Emily (& possibly other inmates there)...

... He brings Emily to the "Theater" area (named because it IS a stage-filled theater), which is run by an Eastern European woman named Dr. Vera Gorski (CARLA GUGINO). She believes she can "rehabilitate" the women (tho, to "what" is debatable) by the use of "DANCE" moves-- tho almost no one truly "dances" there...

... One of the primary members of the non-dancing "company" is Sweet Pea (ABBIE CORNISH), who dotes on her younger sister named Rocket (JENA MALONE) there... They both try to help Emily avoid a LOBOTOMY planned for her by Oscar, & they do that in part by encouraging her to join their "DANCING" group...

... Lots of people (including Oscar) are "mesmerized" by Emily's "dancing"-- which involves merely TALKING about dancing & just "standing" there as she enters what the film company conveniently calls an "ALTERNATE REALITY", supposedly as a means of "coping" with the tribulations of the place...

... In that (ahem) "reality", she starts "transporting" to various WARTIME scenes, always "led" by a "Wise Man" (SCOTT GLENN)...

... First, as shown by the double-and-triple winged fighter aeroplanes, she's in WORLD WAR I with Abbie, Jena, & other of the inmate girls such as Blondie (VANESSA HUDGENS) and Amber (JAMIE CHUNG)...

... In appropriately "washed-out" colors and black & white, the women are transformed into great FIGHTERS, trying to destroy the wicked steam-powered "zombies" of the German KAISER... They attack his troops, aeroplanes and dirigibles, sometimes "flying" thru the air as they "MOW-DOWN" their adversaries...

... Does this sound like a "COMIC BOOK" type story? Well, it's SUPPOSED to!-- it's a "graphic novel" type of movie, directed (& partly written) by ZACK SNYDER, the maker of "DAWN OF THE DEAD" (from 2004), "300" (from 2006), "WATCHMEN" (2009), and "LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE" (2010)!...

... In "between" the various "wars", the girls meet various other dastardly types, such as The Cook of the asylum (MALCOLM SCOTT), the Mayor (ALAN C. PETERSON), etc. There are planes representing WORLD WAR II, then some other war (possibly Vietnam, as characterized by the helicopters) & various "fantastical" CREATURES the girl inmates have to challenge and conquer...

... In the midst of all these clearly CONFOUNDING confrontations (including facing fire-breathing DRAGONS), Emily & the other girls have to go on a "QUEST" to try to find & recover 5 special "objects" which (per Scott) will supposedly help them ESCAPE the asylum...

... At one point, we meet a kindly "Doctor" (JON HAMM), who doesn't like the idea of lobotomizing Emily. WHY is he there in the story?-- Well, either because he's a "BIG NAME" TV star, or they wanted to have one "positive" male figure (or for "BOTH" and possibly other insignificant reasons!)...

... Is one of the girls a "double-agent" secretly working on behalf of the ASYLUM masters, & if so, who IS it?... Will any of the girls be killed in the plans to try to escape?... Will any of the "SINFUL" characters get their "just desserts" (or at least "entrees")?!...

... At the end of my advance screening, one person in the audience loudly yelled a hearty "BOO!" at what he'd just seen (which caused a bunch of laughs & some cries of "agreement") with his opinion...

... Is the film ridiculous?-- ABSOLUTELY-- but, it's clearly MEANT to be!... It's "cartoonish", makes little sense, & (as I said at the beginning), it's a "MISH-MOSH" of ideas that are seemingly meant to LOOK "impressive" (& that's about "all" it achieves)....

... The film is undeniably "CREATIVE", with some quite striking SPECIAL EFFECTS (cgi & otherwise), done by a number of different special effects groups... I'm trying to "resist" saying you're a "SUCKER" if you let the the theater "PUNCH" your ticket to see this...

... But, because I LIKE attempts at being imaginative, I am going to "generously" rate the film at 6.0 out of 10 stars. I can't give it more because, while the acting is OK & it's "creative" in parts, it's got some dreadful dialogue & writing, & it is NOT what I'd call "inspired" in what to me is any particularly "worthwhile" way...

[... One thing as a serious aside: most people left the theater when the CREDITS were just starting to play. Sit THRU the credits-- because only there will you see real DANCING, & the 5 minutes or so of musical numbers are done in a finely STYLISH way that's really the BEST part of the film, in my opinion!...]

3 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Is it the Car or the LAWYER who's really the "HOT ROD"?!..., 15 March 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In 1955, a hit song came out about a "Hot Rod Lincoln". It referred to a car "souped-up" for racing purposes. In this movie, the car (rather than the lawyer) IS a Lincoln-- but it's the STORY & not the auto that's "enhanced" in performance… … The lawyer is Mick Haller (MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY), & he operates out of a Lincoln Town Car rather than an office. Usually, he's driven by a street-wise black guy named Earl (LAURENCE MASON)… … Matt seems to specialize in representing "LOW-life" criminals, &, while the car is black, his favorite color is green-- as in getting his MONEY up-front before he does any work for the accused… … As he's about to go into court to represent someone, a bail-bondsman contact, Val Valenzuela (JOHN LEGUIZAMO), clues him in to a possible high-paying new client. That guy is Louis Roulet (RYAN PHILIPPE), who's been accused of beating and an attempted rape of a woman… … Ryan is the son of a very rich real estate agent named Mary Windsor (FRANCES FISHER), & he is very adamant in protesting his innocence. In talking to him, Matt brings along his old friend Frank Levin (WILLIAM H. MACY), his longtime investigator… … Initially, Ryan appears to BE innocent, since many of the Police Dept's "facts" (such as a knife recovered) appeared to exonerate him in the case. Further, the more Matt delves into the facts, the more he discovers "disconcerting" things-- like how the woman charging Ryan has a history of involvement in prostitution, & there's the possibility she was trying for a large cash payout from his family… … As the story evolves, we learn that Matt's father had also been a lawyer, but that Matt is an "operator": Matt has a bunch of "SLIPPERY" ways about him, in that he sets-up things like false incidents to cause Ryan's family lawyer to pay him MORE MONEY, & does other "shady" things in how he operates… … Matt is good at working (taking advantage of) his "ins" around the area. One of those is Prosecuter Maggie McPherson (MARISA TOMEI). It turns out, he'd had a DAUGHTER with her in the past, & he's actively involved in helping co-parent the child (who lives with Marisa). He regularly goes to her (& others he knows) to try to get some "private" / advance information about cases… … Bit-by-bit, we learn that Matt had a history of seeking "EASY" ways of handling litigation-- such as trying for "plea bargains" & the like to get thru them. For example, rather than looking for facts to prove the innocence of client Jesus Martinez (MICHAEL PENA), he mainly sought out a reduced term that sent Michael to San Quentin prison… … But, the more Matt & William investigate Ryan's case, the worse Ryan looks. Despite Ryan's initial protestations, he might have been involved in one or more PREVIOUS attacks. And, since Ryan is "protected" by "attorney-client privilege" (which keeps facts & communication between them "private"), that "limits" what Matt can do & how he does it… … Matt is involved in other cases as he's handling Ryan's matter, & we learn some important particulars from how he manages those. There are some elements that seem to "impact" on RYAN'S case… The Police (in the form of Detective Lankford, played by BRYAN CRANSTON) start to question Matt regarding a matter involving William, &, more & more, we start to feel that Matt is possibly being "PLAYED" by Ryan in his case… … Things start to "twist & turn" like crazy, with all kinds of "uncomfortable" essentials starting to THREATEN Matt & people he cares for… Things that seemed to be "clear" start becoming "murky" at best, & past MURDER cases start to impact everything that's going on with Ryan & Matt… … Was Ryan telling the truth that he'd been unfairly charged in his case?... When Matt finds out some "DISCONCERTING" facts, will be still be able (or willing) to properly REPRESENT Ryan?... Will possible charges against actions by Matt impact what he's able to do?...

… Can Matt live with "himself" if he's trying to defend someone he feels is really GUILTY of charges?... Will Matt's family be at risk from his efforts to defend certain people charged with crimes?... Can Matt find a way to do what's "RIGHT" in a world of "wrongs"?!...

… Matt has had a history of playing "surfer" type characters & making POOR movies. This film is NOT the Matt you're "used" to: he keeps his shirts ON, & provides a really effective dramatic presence-- by far the BEST character & performance he's ever had… … The other actors are also very SUCCESSFUL & believable in their roles. There are loads of satisfying "TWISTS" in the story, where Matt has to "shift gears" in what he's doing & find a "NEW" way to achieve what he wants to accomplish under the "guidelines" of the legal "system"… … I quite liked the "nitty gritty" way the crime thriller was concocted & played-out-- to the point that I hoped there'd be some "SEQUELS" considered for Matt's character… … Thus, tho it may be hard to "comprehend", this McConaughey film is being given an enthusiastic 8.25 out of 10 stars…

(o_

/\ = = = … ( <> ^ <> ) ...

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
"TAP" In To this FUN Experience!, 11 March 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

March 17th is St. Patrick's Day. Appropriately enough, an IRISH-themed film will be opening up starting then, for what is claimed will be a limited 1-week period…

… The movie is a 3-D version of MICHAEL FLATLEY'S "LORD OF THE DANCE" musical that he first offered to the public at Dublin's O2 theater in 1996. As he explains at the beginning of the film, he's taken the show around the world since then, & he and his company were looking forward to coming back HOME to that theater for a new offering of the program…

… Overall, the show is designed to symbolically tell a story in Irish folklore about "good vs. evil". To no great surprise, Michael represents the side of "Good". Opposing him is a group of black-clad "warriors". That "Evil" group is led by the Dark Lord (TOM CUNNINGHAM), who's been with the show since 1997 when he started touring with the show at 18…

… There are around 37 or so dancers, males & females. The females often do BALLET-type moves on their toes. They also periodically switch into the TAP / clog numbers that the MEN specialize in (often with the typical hands-at-their-sides style-- tho some of the men do shift their arms at times, particularly when they're doing "boxing"-type moves)…

… The stage utilizes some very effective video PROJECTIONS to add to the "mood" of what is happening in the conflicts between good (usually dressed with some light-colored outfits, often with pastels for the women) & evil (in dark colors)…

… One of the most enjoyable elements are numbers featuring two very wonderful female FIDDLERS: GIADA COSTENARO is from Italy and has played the violin since she was 6. She studied Irish music, & joined the Flatley group in 2007…

… The other fiddler (who joins Giada in occasionally dancing around as they play) is VALERIE GLEESON, an Irish lass who's studied the instrument since she was four. After touring with other groups around the world, she joined the Flatley company in 2010...

… She & Giada play some numbers by themselves, others with the DANCERS, & with Michael Flatley as he (a master flautist) plays a huge thick long FLUTE during an elaborate number…

… Along with the afore-mentioned main male dancers, there are two featured female dancers: The blonde-haired lady, as "Saoirse", is BERNADETTE FLYNN. Born in Ireland (as you might "guess" from the name!), she's been dancing since she was four, & has won World Championships in Irish dancing. She's been with the Flatley group since she was 16, teaches dance, & has appeared on the Academy Awards…

… The dark-haired female lead, "Morrighan", is played by CIARA SEXTON. She also started studying at a very young age, taking dancing classes starting at age three. A World & All Ireland champion, she joined Flatley's show in 2007, and took over this lead role the following year...

… There's an exceptional level of ENERGY exhibited by the incredible dancers in this show. The amazing thing is, you seldom "see" them LOOKING tired or even breathing very heavily! As my friend Adrienne K. commented after seeing the movie, she took tap-dancing for like 8 years & she knows what a huge amount of WORK it takes to accomplish what they do!...

… Flatley has been doing his various shows for a number of years, & is in exceptional shape. He's the holder of various Guinness World Records, having been timed at more than 35 taps per second!...

… The show utilizes a flute-playing sort of "Sprite – Jester" lady who serves to carry the story "through" its various elements: she's dressed in colorful rhinestones with a headdress similar to a "feathery" type of "Jester" hat, and dances as she "leads" the diverse "sides" thru the "journey"…

… At one point, the "warriors" of the Dark Lord help him "take" the "Lord Of The Dance" belt away from Flatley-- but then Michael works hard & "wins" the Belt BACK from the evildoers… There's fine MUSIC to go along with the marvelous dancing, & it's a wonderfully enjoyable show…

… I have one complaint with what I saw, which has reduced my overall rating to 8.5 out of 10 stars: the show is basically very well-photographed, & the 3-D effect often ADDS to the pleasure because it allows added "depth" to the movements…

… But, while the "wide angle" scenes are fine, in a number of cases, in close-up shots of individuals, you are UNABLE to see the vitally-important FOOTWORK… [ As posted with PHOTOS at: voice-of-film.blogspot.com/ ]

… I don't know if it's a problem with the projection in the large theater or with the way it was originally filmed, but, while you can see the colorful "lights" at the TOP of such scenes, you on a number of occasions cannot see the FEET of the featured dancers, which is careless at best & something that needs to be "FIXED" as much as possible for a show highlighting dancing…

… But, that problem covers only a SMALL part of the film's running time (of around 1 hr 35 minutes), so it's not significant on an overall basis… … Flatley's motto is, "nothing is impossible... follow your dreams"; he's obviously DONE that in his life's work, & it's clearly evident in this finely ENJOYABLE musical experience…

Limitless (2011/I)
2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Should you SACK a SLACKER, or Factor a BACKER?!..., 11 March 2011
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is based on the Alan Glynn novel "THE DARK FIELDS" … Eddie Morra (BRADLEY COOPER) is a writer. Well, that's what he's "told" people. He'd LIKE to be writing-- especially since he's been given an "advance" to do so. But, he keeps having a writer's "BLOCK", & sits around accomplishing NOTHING really… … Yes, he's one of those famous people you read about (from those who do write) called a "SLACKER". His apartment and personal appearance also express how his mind is feeling, in that they too are sadly disorganized & unkempt. His girlfriend Lindy (ABBIE CORNISH) is "fed-up" with it all, & CALLS OFF their relationship… … By chance, Bradley meets Vernon (JOHNNY WHITWORTH), the brother of Melissa (ANNA FRIEL)-- an ex-wife he'd had. Johnny was looking strangely well-to-do, & Bradley thinks it's because of the old illegal "black market" activities he'd engaged in….

… But Johnny said no, it was all thanks to "NZT"-- a supposedly soon-to-be-"approved" PILL he'd gotten an "advance" connection with. He glowingly describes how it can help "focus" a person's MIND so a person could use ALL his brain-power instead of the usual 20%, & he gives Brad one of the pills (to try to show him his abilities could be "LIMITLESS")… … Brad doubts Johnny's claims, but thanks him for the pill… Later, he decides to try NZT-- & finds it allows him to get OVER his Writer's Block. He's stunned at what he was able to accomplish, & visits Johnny to try to get MORE of the pills… … Johnny's friendly-- but, when Brad returns after doing some errands on his behalf, he finds someone has MURDERED him… Brad (using his extra brain power) is able to find Johnny's "stash" of pills, & goes back HOME… Soon, he gets some ideas for making money from INVESTMENTS, & starts doing very well at that… … Hoping he can extend his "streak" at success, he goes to a Russian mobster named Gennady (ANDREW HOWARD) to get a short-term, high-interest LOAN -- which needs to be paid back promptly or Brad will be deeply "SORRY"!...

… Brad is able to learn things (languages & facts) at amazing speed with exceptional understanding, and quickly makes lots more money. In time, he gets to meet big-shot financeer Carl Van Loon (ROBERT De NIRO), feeling he could be his "backer" & provide the "key" to a quantum LEAP in Brad's being financially and socially successful and powerful… … But, everything soon starts to expand and "SPIN" out-of-control: Andrew tries to force Brad to provide HIM with more & more of the pills, & keeps his "GOONS" close-by to provide the "or-else!" factor to his demands… Robert is very favorably IMPRESSED by Brad's abilities-- but is also very "demanding" in what HE expects… … In the midst of all of this, Brad starts having a bunch of adverse "SIDE-EFFECTS" from his use of NZT, & finds he's in-effect put himself on a "treadmill" that he can't really CONTROL very well… He confides a bit in Abbie & others, but that doesn't seem to truly "SOLVE" the problems… … Will Brad be able to properly MANAGE his use of NZT, or find ways to "improve" it to make it safer and / or more useful and "available"?... Will Brad be able to control ANDREW and his thuggish requirements?... Will he find a way to keep Robert at "arm's length" so he can move "forward" & yet not be under his "THUMB"?...

… I was really considerably IMPRESSED with what they were able to accomplish with this film: the acting seems "simple", but all the major characters are able to surprise & PLEASE you with what they turn out… … There are lots of TWISTS & TURNS in the story: some of them, I could see "coming" (such as about a proposed merger regarding Robert's company); but others were quite UNexpected in a quite satisfying way. The very END was especially "fulfilling" to me… … Thus, since the "deals with the DEVIL(S)" provides such an enjoyable psychological "thriller", I'm rating it as 9.0 out of 10 stars…

Win Win (2011)
1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
VICTORIES Don't always come EASILY…, 4 March 2011
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nowadays, even LAWYERS have been affected by the downturn in the economy. Mike Flaherty (PAUL GIAMATTI) is one of those. He lives in a small town, and this period has gotten increasingly tough for him. His office is in a bad state of disrepair.

He very much doesn't want his WIFE Jackie (AMY RYAN) to know the extent of his problems and stresses (such as declining health) … About the only current work he has is representing a client named Leo Poplar (BURT YOUNG) who's starting to suffer from dementia.

The subject comes up of who to arrange as the "GUARDIAN" for Burt & his estate (since Paul's been unable to reach Burt's daughter from whom he's been estranged for 20 or so years). As being Burt's Guardian would provide a monthly income, Paul proposes HIMSELF for that position. But, Paul wants to keep the "source" of the money SECRET from AMY.

One day, when Paul visit's Burt's house, there's a boy sitting in front of it. When Paul asks the kid who he is & why he's there, he's told his name is Kyle Timmons (ALEX SHAFFER) & he's Burt's GRANDSON!

Paul takes Alex to visit Burt, who says he doesn't HAVE any grandson. Alex reveals that he's 16 years old & the son of his daughter back in Ohio who Burt hasn't seen in decades & who's in a hospital, which is why he's come to stay with Burt.

Burt is quite friendly to not-very-talkative Alex, & says he'd prefer being IN his own house where Alex came to stay, but he's not allowed to be there. Without revealing everything to wife Amy, Paul proposes that Alex stay with THEM for a week or so while he tries to reach Burt's daughter.

Paul has trouble TRACKING DOWN Alex's mom Cindy (MELANIE LYNSKEY), & is distressed to learn she's in a DRUG-rehab program with an indefinite "recovery" date.

Amy's not "thrilled" at the idea of caring for someone they barely know. But, since Alex has shown himself to be polite and thoughtful (including in the way he plays with their little girls), she ACCEPTS his continued presence there for the time being.

In some ways, Alex might seem a bit "strange"-- but he's mainly just a "QUIET" teenager, who keeps things to "himself" unless he gets in the "mood" to talk about some certain subjects (such as his own past life).

He's also clearly CONSIDERATE (such as regularly visiting Burt in the Home) & also helpful, wanting to assist Amy in getting groceries-- & even asks to get a favorite cereal that Burt particularly likes.

At one point, Alex asks if he can "watch" as Paul "volunteers" as a coach of the town's high school WRESTLING team, the "Pioneers". The team has a long "history"-- for consistently LOSING their matches, although Paul & his assistant coach Vigman (JEFFREY TAMBOR) do the best they can with the 12 or so kids on the team.

To Alex's asking if he might participate in some of the work-outs, Paul feels that'd be OK-- especially since Alex says yes, he's DONE "some" wrestling in the past. When he works out, Paul sees Alex is VERY GOOD at the sport.

Paul's best friend, Terry Delfino (BOBBY CANNAVALE), needs something to keep him "busy", since he's very upset over his recent divorce. When he watches Alex practice, he also is amazed at how talented he is-- & "looks him up" on the INTERNET, learning that Alex had once been an award-winning athlete back in Ohio.

Bobby becomes "GUNG-HO" in having Alex join the TEAM (after Paul works to get him enrolled in the high school)… Alex has an unusually good WORK-ethic, taking it upon himself to do things to help his Training.

Rather than make fun of any of the other under-achieving team members, Alex quietly works to encourage & help THEM in the sport. He becomes a good friend to their least-talented team member, Stemler (DAVID W. THOMPSON) -- a tall, uncoordinated kid who he sincerely likes as a person, partly because of their mutual interest in playing VIDEO games…

Thanks to Alex's presence, all the team members start to IMPROVE in their wrestling, to the point that they get along GREAT with each other & start doing really WELL in their meets. Paul & Amy grow increasingly FOND of Alex, & enjoy having him around (even if he never does initiate much in the way of verbal communications most of the time).

Alex & the wrestlers continue to gain an increasing amount of NOTORIETY in the town, especially as the team has a chance of going "ALL THE WAY" championship-wise in the area. Into that unusually "comfortable" mix, a walking "WRENCH" arrives-- in the form of the unexpected appearance of Alex's mom MELANIE (whom Alex has long been on the "OUTS" with). And, we soon learn that she's gotten in contact with a woman lawyer named Shelley (MARGO MARTINDALE).

Will Melanie's arrival turn out to HELP Alex in his wrestling, or hurt him?... Is Melanie in town to try to "GET" something from Burt or Paul?... Will Amy find out about Paul's "SECRETS" from her?... How will things "END-UP" for all the major characters?

This is an UNUSUAL movie-- both in the way Paul has a basically "CONTENTED" family life, & how you have a satisfying sports-related film WITHOUT the usual "PAT" type endings to the various plot lines.

The acting is both "controlled" & CREDIBLE, by the old & "new" actors, the story is a fine one (showing how people can move forward even without moral "perfection" inherent), & it ended with my hoping there'd be a "CONTINUATION" of the story. Thus, I'm rating this enjoyable entertainment at 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Beastly (2011)
10 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
His FACE Is, but the Movie ISN'T, 28 February 2011
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rob (PETER KRAUSE) is a well-known & rich TV broadcaster. He's gotten where he is on his good looks, & his mantra is that you need to be GREAT-LOOKING & surround yourself with similar people… … His son, Kyle (ALEX PETTYFER), has FOLLOWED in his dad's mis-steps in that regard, & (likewise) acts like an arrogant ass… Alex is very "open" in his attitude, & declares his belief that people need to be particularly ATTRACTIVE physically during his campaign to be a Class President at a fancy private high school in the New York area… … While much of the school is "awed" with his conceits (including his attitude that people "suck" if they're not beautiful), he does not really impress a pretty girl Lindy (VANESSA HUDGENS) who is running for a lower office & who he's never bothered to really talk to in her 3 years at the school… … Further, his condescensions and thoughtless treatment deeply antagonizes a Goth-like girl named Kendra (MARY-KATE OLSEN). When he goes out of his way to be hurtful to her, she puts a CURSE on him: … To teach him a lesson, Alex loses his head hair & he becomes downright "BEASTLY" -- with ugly red gouges in his face + upraised spider-like VEINS & "vine" designs there & elsewhere on his body… And, above his left eye, there's an apropos tattoo etching of the word "SUCK"… … Yes, it's a "take-off" on the "BEAUTY & THE BEAST" story, & Alex gets very depressed & angry when his "six-pack" becomes a "broken case"… His dad takes him to doctors, but when he learns they can't do anything to help his condition, he puts Alex in an out-of-the-way location & basically SHUNS him… … Alex is given just the help of a Caribbean housekeeper named Zola (LISA GAY HAMILTON) who Alex has been unkind to as long as he's known her, + a tutor named Will (NEIL PATRICK HARRIS). Neil is blind & takes no "guff" from Alex, since he's unwilling to indulge someone who's already clearly badly SPOILED & uncaring about the people & world around him… … Alex had been told by Mary-Kate that the only way she'd remove the curse from him is if he found someone who'd sincerely say she LOVES & kisses him within 1 year… There are precious few "candidates" for that role, but Alex hesitantly goes after Vanessa… … She has grown up with a druggie father (-- sort of the "modern" touch to the old story! --), & Alex gets her father to let him care for Vanessa since the dad is clearly incapable of doing that properly… … Alex is timid about even letting Vanessa SEE him at first. But, eventually, he follow's Neil's straightforward advise, "listens" to her, & eventually starts becoming more THOUGHTFUL towards her (& others). Eventually, following the other "contemporary" touch of being "Green", he even tries building her a GREENHOUSE with pretty flowers… … Will Alex start to truly change INSIDE as a person?... Will Vanessa be able to NOT see Alex as "Beastly"?... Will Alex's Dad ever reconcile with him?... Will Alex be able to find someone who'll truly LOVE him & be able to break the SPELL he's under?...

… Although the writing is often fairly weak, it's nevertheless a cute little story. NEIL has the best "lines" in the film-- clever, funny & well-delivered… The other major actors do well with the sort of "partially-deveveloped" characters they're given to play… (Alex is better & has more to "do" in his "I AM NUMBER 4" role…) … Accordingly, since it's enjoyable in a "light" way, I'm rating it as 7 out of 10 stars…

6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Will attending a Convention lead to "CONVENTIONAL" Results?!... [ See OTHER REVIEWS at: http://voice-of-film.blogspot.com/ ], 9 February 2011
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Insurance agents are generally NOT particularly looked-upon with great "favor" by very many people (& for good reason). This movie attempts to put the lives of some such agents in a different, quasi-"QUIRKY" perspective… … Tim Lippe (ED HELMS from "THE OFFICE" on TV) is an easy-going 34-year-old agent living & working in Brown Valley, WI. He's not especially "cutting-edge" when it comes to life experiences, but, he LOVES his simple existence there, in part because he's shacking-up & "pre-engaged" with his ex-7th-grade teacher, Macy (or Millie) Vanderhei (SIGOURNEY WEAVER)… … His agency is proud to have won "Silver Diamond" awards from an insurance group promoting "Christian" ideals. But, things become very disturbed when the head of the agency is shown to have behaved in a "shocking" manner… Because of that situation, innocent Ed is sent to represent the agency at the NEW convention the group is holding in Cedar Rapids, IA… … Ed is impressed with the "modern" & "fancy" trappings he encounters at the hotel where the Convention is to be held. He meets "friendly" girl Bree (ALIA SHAWKAT) outside the hotel, & doesn't realize what her "profession" is in the world of "greeting" strangers… She affectionately calls him "Butterscotch" (for reasons that will become obvious)… … He rooms with a Black American agent named Ronald Wilkes (ISIAH WHITLOCK, JR. – from "THE WIRE" on TV), who's outgoing & a "veteran" in attending such Conventions. To his shock & upset, Ed is also given another roomie named Dean Ziegler (JOHN C. REILLY)-- who his agency owner has "warned" him is a "POACHER" of clients who should be "avoided" at all costs… … John is an outgoing, unrefined, coarse loudmouth, who constantly delights in spouting RAUNCHY comments. Isiah is a little bothered by John, but he's warmly greeted by another veteran Conventioneer, Joan Ostrowski-Fox (ANNE HECHE), a worldly, outgoing married woman who seems to "know" everyone & who ENJOYS John's crudeness… … Ed is almost "overwhelmed" when meeting the President of the group holding the Convention, Orin Helgesson (KIRKWOOD SMITH from TV's "THAT 70's SHOW")… Not unexpectedly, "straight-arrow" sherry-swilling Ed is often "taken ABACK" at the antics of John & some of the others-- but, little-by-little, he keeps being "drawn-in" to more & more "shocking" activities… … WHO is really "behind" the reported "Petition" to RESCIND the "Silver Diamond" awards so important to Ed's agency?... Will Ed "give-in" to the "SEDUCTIVE" tendencies of Anne?... Will John prove to be the UNTRUSTWORTHY person Ed was warned he is?...

… Will Ed "LOOSEN-UP" per the efforts of Alia & John & others?-- and, if so, will that lead to any risky "CONSEQUENCES"?... Will Ed succeed at his attempt to win ANOTHER "Silver Diamond", & what methods would he use to try to ACHIEVE that?... What will "COME" of naïve Ed's being led into more "worldly" exploits at the Convention?...

… The cast does a FINE job at their roles, & that helps lead to a lot of FUNNY situations and enjoyment "beyond" the usual "scope" of such a "light" comedy… We don't often meet people of a lot of the "extremes" shown by the characters-- but, they're "BELIEVABLE" in the context set up… … So, since the plot "WORKS" & it's frivolous FUN, I'm giving it 7.25 out of 10 stars…

0 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
While enjoyable, it's action FLUFF overall..., 13 January 2011
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Review of film: "THE GREEN HORNET" In Detroit, there was a radio station with the call letters WXYZ. In 1935, it was controlled by a man named George Trendle, who worked to develop a program called "THE LONE RANGER". When that show proved very popular, Trendle worked to create a similar program which he decided should demonstrate "… that a political system could be riddled with corruption and that one man could successfully combat this white-collar lawlessness."… … That new show was broadcast on radio in 1936 & was called "THE GREEN HORNET"… The main character (Britt Reid) owned & ran a major metropolitan newspaper. Over time, due to political "correctness" (and / or fears), his assistant / valet Kato was described as Japanese, then Filipino, and then (in 2 movie serials in 1940-41) as Korean… … Starting in the early '40's, the character also started appearing in comic books… In 1966-67, the story was used in an ABC TV series starring Van Williams (as Britt) & Bruce Lee (as Kato). The program can periodically still be seen in re-runs on MY-TV in Chicago… A Hong Kong "GREEN HORNET" film appeared in 1994, and a French short based on the character was released in 2006… … Since the 1990's, work was done to try to put together an American movie with the character, but numerous problems developed & the project went thru numerous studios and potential actors… Finally, comedian – writer – actor Seth Rogen came on board to shepherd the movie to completion, & it's scheduled for national release as of 01-14-11… … I've seen an advanced screening of this new 3-D film. As the movie starts, Britt's father James (TOM WILKINSON) is bullying his son Britt, who responds with fear and anger at the treatment… Twenty years later, James suddenly dies & the now-"grown" Britt (SETH ROGEN) is left in charge of the newspaper he ran… … The city where the paper is headquartered is filled with "apropos" lawlessness and corruption, as characterized by an outwardly "unimpressive" but vicious megalomaniacal criminal named ("oddly" enough, simply) "Chudnofsky" (played by CHRISTOPHE WALTZ). He eagerly removes anyone (whether competitors, victims or associates) who don't promptly do his bidding… … The man who runs the day-to-day operations of the newspaper is Axford (EDWARD JAMES OLMOS). He wants to report on the problems of the city, but he keeps being hamstrung by Seth-- who has delusions of grandeur and hoped-for self-importance, but who is inherently lazy, disinterested, klutzy & still very CHILDISH in many ways… … At one point, Seth chanced to meet his father's valet & chauffeur named Kato (JAY CHOU). He's initially impressed by him because he'd constructed a machine to make a great cup of COFFEE. When he learns that Kato is a mechanical genius and martial-arts expert, Seth gets the idea that they should work together to fight CRIME, with Jay charged with designing & building the "Black Beauty" car with loads of fancy crime-fighting gadgets… … True to the still-unbelievable idea that tiny masks covering just their EYES will somehow "fool" people into being unable to determine who they really are, Seth and Jay roam around Los Angeles fighting lawlessness, while they act as if they themselves might BE criminals (which causes both the police & Christoph's accomplices to chase them)… … Into the mix comes a comparatively bright (but "limited") secretary for Seth named Lenore Case (CAMERON DIAZ), who is attractive to both him & Jay (which itself causes problems between the guys). We also meet various henchmen of Christoph-- Popeye (JAMIE HARRIS), Chili (CHAD COLEMAN) & Tupper (EDWARD FURLONG, who'd appeared in the original "Terminator 2 – Judgment Day" film)… … Will we find out what (or who) really KILLED Seth's dad (Tom)?... Will the police or Christophe succeed in CAPTURING Seth or Jay?... Who will start gaining real CONTROL of the city?... What part will the city D.A. named Scanlon (DAVID HARBOUR) play in the overall plot?...

… The movie actually turned out BETTER than expected in certain respects: the ACTION scenes are well-done, &some of the numerous "gadgets" are quite "COOL"… … But, one of the problems is the CHACTERIZATION: Rogen (in my opinion) went way "off-track" in trying to combine comedy & violence in his "OBSERVE & REPORT" movie. While his work here isn't as egregious, it's nevertheless periodically OFF-PUTTING to see the "hero" (Britt) so often acting a FOOL, & somehow (with no training) suddenly turning into a badass "fighter" alongside Jay… … The OTHER main characters (Jay, Christoph, & Cameron) do a basically GOOD job with their roles. But, the "comic-relief" of Seth's character (as written) just doesn't seem to "FIT": he's just mildly "amusing" (generating chuckles rather than big laughs), & (while "restrained" for Seth), it came across to me as too frequently "CHEESY" & unbelievable (as a man still playing "games" like a little kid) to really "work" effectively with the "ACTION" crime genre inherent in the plot… … I ENJOYED the movie overall-- but it's action "FLUFF" as constructed. Thus, my rating is 7.5 out of 10 stars…

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Some in-laws can act like OUT-laws! -- But the sequel "WORKS"..., 22 December 2010
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is is the 3rd in the series about a family (the Fockers) with "ECCENTRIC" in-laws...

… BEN STILLER plays Greg (Gaylord) Focker, head of a nursing department at a Chicago hospital. His wife Pam (TERI POLO) is a loving and supportive companion who enjoys raising their twin "Little" Focker kids – smart & tall Samantha (DAISY TAHAN) who's angry at Ben & not speaking to him, & her short, klutzy lizard-loving brother Henry (COLIN BAIOCCHI)… … Ben's rich-but-nutty friend Kevin Rawley (OWEN Wilson) calls him from Europe via a computer connection, happily announcing that he's met someone & intends to get married -- news which pleases his ex-lover Teri… … Plans are under way for a 5th-Birthday party for the kids-- but Ben is upset that his hired contractor Randy Weir (HARVEY KEITEL) has been doing a poor job getting his newly-bought place ready for the event… … At work, Ben meets a pretty drug company rep Andi Garcia (JESSICA ALBA) who wants him to tout her new sex-assisting product at an upcoming industry conference, but he's undecided about the idea of doing it to improve his financial situation… … Speaking of sex, Ben's mother Roz (BARBRA STREISAND) is happily running a sex-ADVICE show on TV (which tends to continue embarrassing Ben to a degree). His equally-embarrassing sexually-open father Bernie (DUSTIN Hoffman) is busy following his own "muses" over in Europe… … As you may remember, Teri's parents are the virtually-polar-OPPOSITES of Ben's folks, with her ex-CIA-type investigator dad Jack Byrnes (ROBERT De NIRO) usually "UPTIGHT" about something, & his wife Dina (BLYTHE DANNER) keeps working to try to "calm" him down… … What's got Robert especially upset are the actions of another son-in-law, Dr. Bob (THOMAS McCARTHY) who's worked to leave his OTHER daughter. That & other stresses start to cause Robert to have some HEART problems (which he naturally tries to "SELF-medicate")… … All that has made Robert especially eager to find someone he can "trust" to eventually take-over "MANAGING" his extended family. He is thus especially "dwelling" on BEN as a possibility for that "position", which he grows to call a "GOD-Focker"… He starts his usual tactic of secretly "INVESTIGATING" Ben when he & Blythe come to town for the upcoming Birthday party… … It should come as no "shock" to you that Robert's "research" eventually learns of the existence of JESSICA in Ben's life… If that weren't "confounding" enough, OWEN comes to town, & -- since his new love "dumped" him --, he's now re-absorbed with the idea of TERI as a perfect "companion" for him (witness a new tattoo he's gotten, etc.)… … Will anything be really "GOING-ON" between Ben & Jessica?... Will Owen's "assistance" help or actually HURT Ben & Teri's attempts to get their kids into a ritzy private school run by Owen's ex-lover Prudence (LAURA DERN)?...

… Will Robert's intensity & obsessions cause more PROBLEMS in the Focker world?... Will the arrival of Barbra & Dustin for the party cause even more "COMPLICATIONS" for the family dynamics?...

… There's a lot of quite FUNNY scenes in the film. Yes, there's a bunch of "exaggerations", but Ben plays his role "straight" (rather than just for "laughs") & thus is a fine "FOIL" for Robert & the situations that arise with him & Jessica & the kids… It would've been nice to have even more interactions with Barbra & Dustin, whose roles are somewhat small… … The cast all seem to be having a GOOD TIME with their roles, thus coming across as "enthusiastic" & believable with the often-swirling nuttiness… For a sequel, it's surprisingly EFFECTIVE-- & the ending might well presage a hoped-for ADDITIONAL continuation of the story (with an intensified "harping" / nagging / interference by the inlaws)… … It's not a "great" comedy-- but it's FUN, & thus I'm rating it 8 out of 10 stars…


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