Reviews written by registered user

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591 reviews in total 
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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Ill fated monkeys encounter the consequences for unsafe bicycle riding, 19 January 2013

Absolutely hilarious.

This is one of those educational films they used to show elementary and junior high aged kids in class; this one deals with encouraging kids to follow rules of safety, proper use, and care of the bicycle. It makes its point of the seriousness of safety, by indulging in humorously bizarre images and exaggeration.

Enter our heroes: a bunch of monkeys bicycling together; who each in turn dramatically suffers ill consequences for a variety of foolish "what-not-to-do" blunders. These range from violating several traffic safety rules to failing to keep proper maintenance of the bike. The "collision" sequences use cartoonish sound effects and animation. I love the bulging eyes surprised looks on the monkey masks as they make their respective exits. Except for Edward Everett Horton's brightly comical narration, nobody speaks (I guess monkeys don't talk), but the body- language expressions of the hapless bike riders says it all anyway. Oddly enough, the remaining monkeys never seem to notice the disappearances, or the their own steadily declining numbers.

Find it, and run it with some friends. Not to be missed.

Prancer (1989)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Yes Virginia, Santa agrees that this is a wonderful Christmas movie, 8 December 2012

You know Scrooge, and Bailey, and Cratchett, and Nutcracker; Charlie Brown, the Grinch, White Christmas and Rudolph. But Virginia, do you recall this sweet classic from 1989 about a famous reindeer? Prancer was the name of the movie and it's a true classic among Christmas movies.

In a story inspired by Yes, Virginia: There Is a Santa Claus, a little girl named Jessica Riggs is being told by others around her there is no Santa yet holds to her faith that he exists. This modern day Virginia O'Hanlon loves Christmas and everything about it, and is horrified to see a street decoration Prancer (the reindeer) damaged in an accident. When she comes upon an injured real reindeer soon after, she assumes it to be Prancer, and hides him and takes care of him. She's feisty at times, but shows a good heart always in her efforts.

The child's faith is only part of the story. How Jessica (Rebecca Harrel) touches others who have lost their hope and faith in various ways is even more profound, and touching. A village recluse (Cloris Leachman), a veterinarian (Abe Vigoda), her jaded widowed father (Sam Elliot), her skeptic friend (Ariana Richards), a newspaper writer (Michael Constantine) are all wonderful in these roles.

The movie's plot plays out very well; each scene evokes different emotions, and captures them all well. There are scenes that will bring a tear. I'd reference a favorite scene, but just realized there are too many to list.

Sweet, heartfelt, genuine, touching. Everything a Christmas movie should be.

12 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Weak romantic comedy with little Christmas spirit, 8 December 2012

With a character obviously based upon the Runaway Bride, and a lead guy based on several old comedies as well, this movie really doesn't have much to do with Christmas. It's a backdrop, but the movie could have just as well been told as Arbor Day Bride, Memorial Day Bride, or Columbus Day Bride. Hallmark put out several Christmas-themed movies this year, and most of them pretty good. This one is not.

The girl has already broken off three engagements, and the guy agrees to a stupid bet about getting a woman to say yes to a phony proposal. Are these the kind of people to settle down to watch with a hot chocolate and /or cuddle up with a loved one with a fire in the fireplace? They're stupid and selfish at best. At worst--well, better not to go there.

Everything is predictable: just a brief excerpt list of stuff you've seen in this sort of movie 100 times before: battle of the sexes, hidden agendas, emotions in spite of themselves, family and friends that wants them together in spite of what they've done, etc etc etc. The movie tries to make these elements cute, but doesn't succeed. While most of the cast are likable people and good actors, the tired story line just doesn't offer any Christmas cheer. If you're in the mood for a Christmas movie, switch channels to an old Christmas cartoon movie while this is on.

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Nice Christmas themed fare from Hallmark, 8 December 2012

This latest Hallmark offering of its Christmas themed movies this year breaks from their more common story lines such as Santa adventures, Scrooge adaptations, and Christmas time romances. This movie has a more serious tone: a teenage boy's life hangs in the balance after he collapses during a basketball practice. He has a heart defect and needs an immediate heart transplant.

It's more a story of faith than anything else. The fact that it's Christmas time certainly plays into the story, but more to set up events, than to be the main focus of the action. How the characters bind together to help and support each other and the boy are the real focus. The interactions of the people are very real; in particular, the mother of the donor and the parents of the heart patient have believable and frank dialog with the doctors involved. This movie often hits some emotional moments, and avoids getting schmaltzy. The use of the luminaries as a metaphor is a sweet touch.

Some events that might have otherwise been dismissed as contrivances in another story, are made logical to fit the plot, both by carefully seeded plot points; as well as the fact the entire story is embracing the ideas of faith and miracles. You've got to love that barn storming cowboy in a Santa suit who sets out in a vintage Cessna against the worst storm nature could throw at him, as well as his courageous co- pilot and passenger that dare to trust him. Their flight lives up to everything the movie prepares you for. Only one minor criticism of the movie: a couple of actors overact in a couple of scenes.

A nice, sentimental movie with positive intentions that it conveys well. Worth catching during one of its repeat showings this December.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Was this movie about giant wasps or a safari? You decide, 2 December 2012

This is one of those movies done in such an awkward manner, that you just have to watch it all the way through just so you can say you did, and maybe even figure out what the movie makers had in mind.

Low budget, but it tries so hard not to look that way that it ends up screaming that it's low budget. It's from the late '50's so the basic premise of a scientific experiment gone awry is no surprise, and these kind of films are a gem to watch, no matter what the script does with the idea. This time giant wasps are on the loose deep in the African continent. Jim Davis, the scientist who blames himself for the existence of these beasts, goes on safari to hunt them down and destroy them before they multiply into an unstoppable menace.

Cut to stock safari footage. Lots of safari footage. Not much ado about the monsters, but if you like lots and lots of safari footage (from another movie), you'll love this film.

Finally, the wasps appear, but the long-anticipated encounter between the five main characters and the creatures kind of fizzles. Certainly considering the time and distance they spent setting up the battle. Mother Nature was apparently also disappointed, and adds some of her own flair to the finale of the story.

There aren't too many movies that follow a path quite like this one, and that's what makes it such a novelty to watch. Have some coffee on hand for the safari portion, though.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Not the best Scrooge adaptation, but has its moments, 2 December 2012

Modernizing and slightly rewriting the Charles Dickens classic Christmas Carol is an oft used formula, and this Hallmark offering is one of the more awkward in attempting it.

First, the idea of merging all four ghosts (Marley, Past, Present, and Future) into one character doesn't seem to work as well as the movie makers hoped. This latter day Scrooge is a toxic publishing exec named Carol (get it?), who is visited by her deceased predecessor, who also has a Christmas reference name: Eve (Carrie Fisher). Fisher plays it well, but an immediate problem develops as we see little if any change in Carol's demeanor. Faced with only ghost visitor throughout the story, someone she knew personally, their banter becomes a stalemate where Carol persistently demands to go home to bed; Eve talks down to her with sarcastic tolerance like she would talk to a child. Scrooge had different reactions as the various ghosts got through to him--each in their own way, and this story misses that.

The life story of Carol really has none of the human interest of her 1840's counterpart, either. She just stepped on people's faces her whole life, and doesn't seem to be touched emotionally when confronted with this. It's difficult to identify with someone this deep into denial and lacking in empathy, and the character does not change in a logical or believable manner.

The acting of the cast in general rises above the script, although some of them are stuck with tiresome and annoying stereotypes.

There are many versions of the Scrooge story out there. Among the best are George C. Scott's and Alistair Sim's. Catch one of those if you can this Christmas season. Carol is OK only if you have nothing else to do.

"When I find you, I will destroy you!", 20 October 2012

Great fodder for late night horror hosts. A mad scientist is on the loose, performing miniaturizing experiments deep in the jungles of Peru. Some fellow scientists are invited to assist him in his mysterious work, and it's pretty obvious what's going to happen to them.

This is one of the earlier science fiction movies, and the "special effects" are certainly primitive by today's standards, but it's a highly re-watchable movie for its novelty value, sparked mostly by a deliciously psycho-sinister characterization by Albert Dekker in the title role. He starts out a paranoid weirdo, jealously guarding his research, and gets more and more bizarre and homicidal as the story progresses.

For its time, the giant sets/forced perspective were probably the main draw of the movie, but the maniacal rants and actions of Dr. Thorkell were what I liked best. After making his rejected guests his first human subjects of the "condenser," it becomes a cat-and-mouse game as the sight-impaired Thorkell decides to exterminate his "little friends." Lines such as "I will find you, and when I find you, I will destroy you!" are frequent.

The story doesn't grow too much beyond that point, but the action scenes are nonetheless still interesting to watch. Worth a look if you can find a copy.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Low key, mildly enjoyable but very predictable, 6 October 2012

A middle-aged empty nest couple has drifted from intimacy and retreated into their respective comfort zones, not even sharing a bed. Their daily routine has no variety, what little conversation they have left has faded to basic platitudes and shallow topics. In short, they've become robotic and boring, their marriage a hollow shell of hopeless monotony.

Two lonely people sharing an address; and the wife, feeling the emotional distress, decides to act to restore the vitality and spark to save the marriage. She breaks out of her comfort zone, and spontaneously books a therapy program get-away. The husband, Tommy Lee Jones, reluctantly faces their "elephant in the room" problem, and accompanies.

At this point, you'd be thinking, this will be a feel-good low cal story about two people gradually growing together, and finally having a romantic happy ending. Frankly, it doesn't steer too far from that formula, and most of the plot development follows just the route you expect like a road map.

That's not to say the movie is without merit; it works on the level it's shooting for. Although the frustrated, sad, and self-doubting wife with the gruff "hiding his feelings of inadequacy" husband are admittedly clichéd, Streep and Jones fill these roles with humor and pathos well beyond the depth the script gives them to work with. Steve Carell, plays an unexpectedly non-comedic role of their marriage counselor/therapist. This part could have easily been approached as a throw-away comic relief, but wisely was not, and Carell plays the understanding yet frank straight man to the couple splendidly. Some of his dead-pan delivery of weird comments are the funniest lines.

Be forewarned that the subject manner is intended for adults only, some very intimate topics are tossed across the table at random moments. Married middle-aged couples will identify with the characters best.

In summary, what you expect is usually what you get in this film. You expect these three actors to do no wrong, no matter what role they're in, and they meet expectations. The plot develops just as you would expect. I particularly liked the cute ending, which was very heartfelt and sweet.

Lawless (2012)
8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Lots of blood, not much story telling, 8 September 2012

Run of the mill shoot 'em up stuff. Little character development, a thin story thread, and dialog that sounds like it could have been written by a pro wrestler in five minutes; this movie really only focuses on the violence aspect.

Some Prohibition era bootleggers are running amok in the backwoods someplace, and there's (not again) local law enforcement corruption, complete with dullard cops looking the other way. A Fed with Silent Era movie star slicked back hair is called in to clean up Dodge, and takes his job a bit too seriously. There's adequate attention to period costumes, automobiles, weapons, and slang to bring out the era well, and that's the movie's strongest point.

Whatever story the writer originally intended doesn't make it to the screen. The director relegates everything to an over-the-top cops 'n' robbers blood fest, with little explanation of who's who, or what their objectives are. Other than croaking each other, that is. There's not a single scene in this movie where someone doesn't get the snot beaten out of them, smashed with a heavy blunt object, or shot (usually multiple times). The plot never explores anything about any of these people, but sure leaves a lot of them bleeding profusely on the ground.

Then there's the character from whose point of view the story is told. He's a brainless punk who moonshines, sees all this violence, gets threatened several times, and continues to bootleg in the midst of all these lunatics like nothing has happened. The actions of other characters don't make much more sense than that, either.

If you like high action and violence for its own sake, and couldn't care less who's getting blasted, then this film is fine. Don't expect much in the way of clear story telling, however.

6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Another "couple on the run" slapstick film, 8 September 2012

Didn't expect much, only reason to see this was that we were in the mood to see a movie at a drive-in, and this was the 2nd feature at the only drive-in around here; that was the only reason to see it in the first place. It still is. The movie left much to be desired, but at a drive- in, you just don't care. Even dumb movies like this can be fun because of the party atmosphere environment of a drive-in. It was, since we were laughing more at how clumsy it was, than the intended laugh-lines.

Dax Sheppard uses the Woody Allen playbook--writer/director/lead actor, and gives himself most of the absurd comic situations and joke punch lines. He's got pretty Kristin Bell as his love interest in the story, but as a couple--even a comedic one--their couple chemistry is forced, fake, and just not appealing. A common staple of these "Romeo and Juliet on the run" type flicks is the lead couple arguing as they run from trouble or fight the bad guys; but these two argue all the time. They fight about everything imaginable, even how you're supposed to fight. It gets old fast, and neither these two or any other characters in this thing are likable. At best, they're juvenile stereotypes, especially Tom Arnold's psycho dimwit role. There's plenty of middle school sex jokes, and people are always being bloodied up with unprovoked punches to the face.

A lot of our neighboring cars at the drive-in gave up on this thing, revved engines and drove off. That included a car that was emitting the tell-tale scent of a certain smoking substance, which the occupants no doubt were partaking of to make this film seem funnier than it actually was. Apparently it didn't help, or their supply ran out.

There are a few funny scenes, but always on a slapstick level. Going in with the attitude this is dumb, and take it at face value that way, this might be just tolerable enough to spend an hour and change. However, you're probably better off saving your money for something else.

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