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Tenure (2008)
Enjoyable to watch, mainly for Wilson, if somewhat naughty
27 September 2018
Grey College English professor Charlie is being considered for tenure. he is well-liked by his students and does a good job in the classroom, but he can't get anything published. But let's back up eight months.

Jay is an expert on Bigfoot. Or thinks he is. He has evidence of the creature. Or thinks he does. The anthrolopology professor is rejected for tenure, minutes after Steve Kim was approved. His response is to toilet paper someone's house. I won't say who, but it's funny.

Charlie is reasonably happy with his life, wishing he could do better; Grey is apparently not a prestigious school despite its gorgeous architecture. His sister Margaret, however, is always harassing him about his lack of concern for their father William, a retired Princeton professor in assisted living. There is nothing obviously wrong with William and he hates where he is. He is still intelligent and demanding, and apparently not happy with his son's lack of career success. Charlie neither visits enough nor helps with the cost, though you have to believe with his current career Margaret is expecting too much of him. William does enjoy calling in to fund-raisers for PBS stations, not intending to contribute but just wanting someone to talk to. Charlie tries doing the same thing and meets Beth, who is likable and cute. Yes, something similar to a romance does develop between them. I'll let you find out just what. It's both weird and funny.

Charlie finds his efforts to get approved for tenure will be more difficult than he thought. His female department head (not attractive) dislikes him for reasons that aren't quite clear. Elaine is a cute new professor hired from Yale. She is likable and gets published in prestigious journals. She's not great in the classroom, which is encouraging for Charlie. However, Charlie does want to help her and in the process we see potential for a romance to develop. Meanwhile, since Elaine volunteered to be faculty advisor to the poetry club after Charlie turned down Stan's request to do so, Charlie and Stan start a second poetry club, allowing more "adult" material. Jay, not one to follow rules, tries to sabotage Elaine's efforts to succeed.

Jay gets Charlie to come along to a presentation where the enthusiastic Dave wants them to sell a product which cannot be named on broadcast TV. This looks like a pyramid scheme. When I saw the movie, part of the sign for the presentation was blurry, and every time the product name was mentioned it was bleeped. Let's just say it helps men who are having trouble with women. Later, this product is the subject of a hilarious scene in ... I'd better let you find out.

One more problem for Charlie: Robin likes him--I mean, really likes him--and wants a relationship which would clearly be inappropriate.

So, will Charlie get tenure? Will he find romance with one of the women? Will William ever be happy? Will Jay find Bigfoot?

Luke Wilson does a very good job here. He makes us like him and we want him to succeed in all areas of his life. That seems to be the main point of the movie and the main reason to enjoy it.

I know David Koechner from several roles, but mainly as the likable loser on "Superior Donuts". Here, he is a loser, but I wouldn't say likable. I suppose we want him to succeed but almost know for certain he never will.

Gretchen Mol is adorable and intelligent, and while her character's failure would be good for Charlie, she just makes Elaine too nice and pleasant for us to really want that. Seeing her and Wilson together is one of the best things about the movie.

Sasha Alexander is nothing but unpleasant. That's it. Margaret has no redeeming qualities except she's a looker. That's how Jay described Elaine, but I didn't see it myself.

Bob Gunton does a good job (though there are no challenges connected with his character's apparent problems) and I found myself wanting the film to focus more on him and the relationship between William and Charlie. I didn't care if the movie wasn't always funny.

William Bogert as the dean is sort of the absent-minded professor and makes us sort of like him, though not always.

The actors playing three of the students also made us like them. Even Ben, sort of the class clown, who doesn't have nearly enough lines.

Some of the music is classical and nice to listen to. But I particularly liked the "a capella" sound that was so much a part of the background music of the TV series "Glee" and a big part of the "Pitch Perfect" movies. This style was played at the movie's start.

Is this family friendly? I think that has already been established. Also, I have reason to suspect the F-word was used a lot. Cleaned up for TV, it's not really too bad.

I enjoyed this, though I have seen better.
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Unbelievably raunchy but hilarious at times
13 September 2018
Is this appropriate family viewing? I'm old enough to be the grandfather of many of the characters and I'm not old enough to watch it. I'm referring to the cleaned up version for broadcast TV. Which really wasn't cleaned up enough, but I don't think such a thing was possible. It was pretty obvious where the F-word was used in many cases even though I couldn't hear it, but if my guesses about where content was removed and what was removed are correct, the great Betty White is not old enough to watch this movie. I can't even imagine what some of the content taken out of this might have been.

With that out of the way, I found many of the gags hilarious.

Jonathan Bennett did a very good job (considering the material) as our hero. he made us like him and care what happened to him.

Kristin Cavallari also did a very good job. Not only very good looking, but intelligent as well. Did I mention good looking? And the camera made sure to focus on just what looked good about her.

And speaking of good-looking girls, wow! They made sure to show us as many bikinis as possible. If there was actual nudity, I obviously didn't get to see it because it was TV.

Sure, there is a formula here, but it's a great formula. What these guys and girls did to get even with the villains was amazing and took a lot of intelligence. Really.

If you like juvenile humor that is adult because kids aren't old enough to watch it, and you're not expecting Oscar, you just may enjoy this.
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About Fifty (2011)
The guys didn't appeal to me unless they were with the girls
23 August 2018
In Los Angeles, Adam is 52 years old and an unemployed commercial editor. He is separated from wife Erin and they share custody of Fred. Fred is a dog. You need to stay for the end of the credits for the message from the American Humane Association. Adam keeps in touch with his father (who we never see) by phone since they live so far apart. Adam is writing a movie but all he has so far is "Fade in".

John has some sort of health problem because we see him at the doctor early in the movie. Like Adam, he doesn't like getting old. Jessica is his pretty boss and apparently his ex as well. Jessica has to inform him he lost a job to a young cool dude. John dates Becca, a dental hygienist, who brings something home from work that leads to an inappropriate sexual experience involving being tied up with dental floss. She has a friend Michelle who John thinks might be right for Adam.

The guys need to enjoy some time together so they go to Palm Springs to play golf.

While there, the guys meet two older women. One is a little too confident, but then she falls apart. neither one is quite right.

Then the guys may have gotten lucky. While in a store buying golf equipment, Adam is with Larry who reminds me of Tim Conway but is not nearly as talented. And not very nice. John meets Alix, who is blonde, cute, intelligent and half his age. She invites John and Adam to a house belonging to her uncle, where she lives with Kate, a college freshman who is obsessed with studying, unwilling to socialize, and attractive. There is one more thing you need to know about Kate, but it's funnier if you find out the way I did (and don't look at her name in the credits first or you'll know).

So will the guys finally be with the right women? It is uncertain but Adam is not yet willing to leave Erin. He should, because she is unpleasant in all her scenes. But you'll just have to wait and see what happens. Meanwhile, John continues to have one health problem after another. Some are funny, and some are not. Just like the various scenes in the movie.

I get the impression this was a quality production, though the signs of being low-budget are there. Many people are thanked at the end and the stars wrote and produced. However, I just found most of the scenes with the two men alone unpleasant. Some scenes with physical comedy were better. When one of the men was with someone else, usually a woman, or they are both with women, I was a lot happier. Actually, it was just the two women. I disliked the rest of the women, but that doesn't meant they weren't good.

The women playing Alix and Kate were really good. The actress playing Kate has had many roles which I enjoyed her in. And she was good here too. Alix doesn't really try to be sexy except in one scene (and she's quite good at that) but it's not exactly what you might think.

I liked some of the music. I particularly liked what I believe to be ukulele. At first I thought it was a guitar. The song is played at the beginning and in at least one other scene. I think I remember another scene with acoustic guitar and standup bass. Ironically, it was in a scene with Alex and her coed roommate that I heard another song I liked. There was one song that started out smooth jazz, though it ended up having more of a rock sound I didn't like. And despite the ages of these men (they were the same age I was when the movie was made), there was plenty of rock music I didn't care for.

I saw this movie after it was cleaned up for TV. I wouldn't recommend it for kids even then.

You might like it if you are a guy getting older.
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Dawn Rider (2012)
You never know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys
16 August 2018
In 1883 in Dakota Territory, a bounty hunter named Cochrane is chasing after Cincinnati John Mason ("I've never been to Cincinnati", Mason frequently tells people). We later learn three men died because of him and while they might not have had high moral standards, Cochrane says, "The law is the law." Mason was also connected with the death of a prisoner in Mexico whose family wanted justice; someone was told to release one or the other, and Mason was released. Mason may have killed people for The Pinkertons. He does admit to having been a Texas ranger.

A gang wearing masks robs the mail in Wyoming and several people on both sides are shot.

At a card game in Montana, Mason has three aces while the other man has three kings. I'm not clear on who was cheating but a number of guns are drawn and Mason needs to get out of town. He meets Ben McClure at a campfire.

In Promise, Wyoming, Mason meets up with his father who is not happy to see him. He also meets up with Alice who is attractive, intelligent and tough, and very happy to see him. However, Ben McClure wants to marry her. This becomes a problem later. Alice seems to be the closest thing Promise has to a doctor, though maybe we just don't see the doctor in the movie.

Alice's brother Rodd is about to lose the family ranch, and he is prepared to do anything. He even considers the ranch more important than his sister. Rodd needs $5000, and money like that is hard to get legally. Mason says he doesn't do that any more.

The masked gang shows up again. At least I assume it is them. They wear the same masks. The only way to be sure is that some, or maybe all, have double X on their shoulder. We are told this is the first time someone has died.

There are railway workers who are getting paid more now than they used to. Someone has to deliver the money, and Ben and Mason volunteer to do the job at different times. Each time there is a problem. We can't really be sure what Mason's intentions are. Meanwhile, Cochrane finally catches up with Mason.

This is a standard Western, with nothing particularly special except that it's never clear just who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. There's lots of fightin' and shootin' and not too much blood. Several people die but most of them we didn't really know.

Donald Sutherland gives one of the standout performances, but doesn't he always?

Jill Hennessy also does a great job.

This was cleaned up for TV. One word network TV doesn't tend to allow did slip through, but a number of other words got bleeped. A lot of them. Cleaned up, it's probably no worse than most Westerns, but not as clean as the family-friendly Westerns of the distant past.

I just watched this because it was on. You might like it if you like Westerns.
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Big Bad Wolf (2006)
Some good acting, but still corny otherwise
9 August 2018
Scott, Mitch, Charlie and another man are on a hunting trip. Mitch and Charlie get separated from the others. Something grabs one of the men and he is not seen again. Then Scott is grabbed and we see this terrible creature who doesn't quite look like a wolf, or anything else that exists in nature. Charlie arrives but can't save his friend.

Seven years later Mitch is married to Scott's widow Gwen. he is not nice, but doesn't quite qualify as abusive. Gwen's son Derek doesn't accept him as his father. Derek is pledging a college fraternity, and to impress two of the members, he steals the keys to Mitch's cabin in the woods. The other two guys have brought girls, and Derek likes Sam, a biker chick who works in a garage. Sam has an attitude and doesn't take pleasure in spending time with Muffy, Brittany, Biff and Chad (their names are actually Cassie, Melissa, Alex and Jason). It's hard to believe a nice guy Like Derek would like her. Actually, Sam is quite likeable even if she has an edge.

The group get lost and asks a man whose truck broke down for help. The guys are eager to help fix the truck but only Sam can actually get it done. But the man refuses at first to give the kids any advice other than turn around and go back. He finally gives in, and the kids arrive at the cabin and have a great time. Cassie has nasty things to say about Alex and they get the bedroom, apparently so they can do what she was talking about. We do get to see her in her underwear before ... you know what will happen. Just not when or how many. And the monster says things like, "Little pig, little pig, let me in!"

Derek and Sam are on the news and are being hounded by journalists. The funniest group of reporters are the ones from the university, who want to make a tribute to the deceased, and they harass the kids several times before becoming more important to the plot.

Charlie has avoided the family since the earlier incident, but he has a theory. So do Derek and Sam. Charlie secretly meets with the kids and they all investigate the theory, hoping to stop the monster.

We do get to meet the monster when he is human. We see signs he is not who we think he is, and ... let me put it this way. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. But he can normally control himself except during a full moon, which there was when the men were hunting, and when the kids were at the cabin.

The ending is quite exciting. And ridiculous. Count Basie would be proud.

If you are looking for a good horror movie, this might not be it. This might be one of those movies that is so bad it's good. But maybe not, since some of the acting is quite good. I found the mystery interesting and many of the characters and situations entertaining.

If anyone can be called a good actor in this film, it is Kimberly J. Brown as Sam. Despite her attitude, she's quite easy to like most of the time, and when she has to in order to get information, she can be quite charming.

Another good actor is the one who plays the monster, even when he is human. As the monster, he is actually funny, if you like a sick sense of humor. I don't. I think the credits give away who the actor is, but keep in mind sometimes actors play more than one part. Perhaps Mitch has a twin brother or something. A lot of people are shown in the credits as being responsible for the great job of making Richard Tyson look so good.

This movie was cleaned up for TV when I saw it. There seemed to be a lot of bad language, and there were several scenes where something was blurry and red. The violence here is often implied but not for the squeamish. And lots of innocent people don't make it, though if you don't like them, that might not be so bad.

I'm not a horror movie fan, but there was a lot for me to like here.
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Dutch Kills (2015)
Pretty good, I guess, if you want to root for the bad guys
31 July 2018
Dutch Kills is a street in New York City, as we see in one of the early scenes.

Ash is out of prison. Tony the Bartender is ready to take him in and give him anything he needs. I have to assume since there was a parole officer in the credits that he is the voice telling Ashley all the things that he could do wrong which will send him right back to prison.

Valentino (or Val) was in prison but he has been out for a while. He loses his job at a garage because there's not enough work for two people. As hard as she works, his sister Gina (who has a young daughter Janelle) is in debt to Lou and if Valentino doesn't do a job for Lou with his friends, Lou will find another way to collect.

Ash is one of the friends that Val asks to help him with this job. There is also Cal, who plays guitar on the street for whatever people will put in his cup. And Daisy also joins the group.

Lou is a drug dealer, among other things, and in addition to threatening people who owe him money, he owes money to someone whose goons beat him up to show she means business. There is one more detail you need to know about Lou, but it's better if you find out the way I did.

Val starts dating his pretty neighbor Vane (sounds like Bonnie to me). Ash also has a romantic relationship with Daisy.

There are two bars. Tony's is dark and depressing but the people are friendly. Tony is a great guy with a definite Irish accent. Charlie's looks good but people get threatened and beat up there. Plus one room apparently had Pol Pot do the designing.

One job isn't enough for Lou. He wants the group to do another job, and once again, he shows he means business.

This is a depressing movie. There are a few laughs, especially from Daisy's mom in one scene, but not enough.

One positive feature of the movie is Val. Sure, he has committed some crimes and is forced to do so here, but he's a good guy. He's enjoyable to watch and you want to root for him.

Lou has few redeeming qualities but the actor playing him does a good job.

Ash is harder to like but I guess we want to see him succeed as well.

This is not family friendly. So many words are bleeped out that in some scenes there's not a whole lot left to explain what's going on. But I suppose it's not excessively violent.

If you like this sort of thing, I suppose this is a good movie.
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Faults (2014)
Well done dark comedy turns into disturbing thriller
31 July 2018
Ansel is giving a presentation about cults at a hotel. At the start of the movie, He believes he is entitled to a free meal in exchange for the presentation, but his scam doesn't work. Also, he is being kicked out of the hotel because the free room he was promised was just for one night, and yet he still has to give the presentation. This means staying in his car once the presentation is over.

Paul and Evelyn attend the presentation. Knowing Ansel is an expert on cults, they ask him to get their daughter Claire out of a cult. In exchange for a free meal, he listens, but of course it will cost them thousands of dollars for him to do his job, and even then there is no guarantee. Meanwhile, photographer Terry, who is his business manager, expects Ansel to pay him a lot of money which he owes. Mick, who has a really sophisticated accent and an uppity personality, is sent to Ansel with a document detailing exactly what Ansel must do. Ansel's money problems stem from his divorce, in which the ex got the proceeds from his first book. His second book is not selling,

Ansel hires goons to find and kidnap Claire. She is taken to a motel where Paul and Evelyn are in the next room, and so the process begins. Claire is unaware her parents are next door, but Ansel assures her he is his friend and she won't be hurt by his goons as long as she cooperates. With her newfound religious faith, Claire is able to resist demands for her to go back to her old life. She refuses to be called Claire as that is just the person she was before and the other person occupying her body. Time, the physical body, gender and other concepts have become meaningless. However, Ansel comes across as being like a psychologist who is only trying to understand his patient. It's not like what I would believe "deprogramming" to be. And while he could be taking advantage of her, as her parents are afraid he is, he is respectful.

Eventually, Claire discovers her parents are in the next room, and they have brought her clothes which she is reluctant to wear because they are her old life (I question those short shorts, given how conservative her father is, but she does look good in them). She is happy to see her parents but protests when she is called "Claire". Still, signs are there that Claire may come back to her old life.

With Terry still demanding his money, Ansel asks Paul for half his fee. Paul protests, but Ansel doesn't want to be visited by Terry's goons, and he delivers the money to Terry, who seems nice but shows another side entirely. Meanwhile, things don't go as planned back at the motel. So what we have to ask is whether Ansel will be able to return Claire to her old life. Will Ansel succeed in his life? Will he at least be able to pay Terry?

I couldn't say what happens at the end if I wanted. Well, I could, but I couldn't explain it.

The movie may have been made in 2014, but the TVs in the motel have channel changers that go "clunk, clunk, clunk". I miss those. In this digital era, those would not be possible. Also, somehow, the TV plays a VHS tape. I didn't see the VCR, but we see a tape of a TV episode where Ansel takes advantage of a victim of a cult, making money and getting famous by showing the world her emotions.

This is a very complicated movie. The summary that came with my TiVo listings called it "drama, thriller, suspense". They forgot comedy. At least for the movie's first half, it is quite obvious that we are supposed to laugh, even though the humor is quite dark and disturbing. Ansel's goons are funny. Well, one of them, anyway. Leland Orser is definitely funny, but comes across as quite intelligent when he finally shows he knows what he is doing. Mostly Ansel is a moron, but Orser , on the other hand, really knows what he is doing even then.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who has done a great job in several roles where I have seen her, does a fantastic job here. No, she's not really funny in most scenes (though she is when she gets flirty), but she doesn't have to be. I would call her scared and submissive in the early scenes, but there is a strength and confidence that come through, based on her faith in this quirky religion. Later on she is the one who is clearly strong and confident, in the sense we usually see these qualities, and she seems to be examining and treating Ansel, as if she is the psychiatrist and he is the patient. In a more popular movie, such a performance might get an Oscar nomination. The parents are pretty much what one would expect. Once he feels he is being taken advantage of, the father becomes very demanding and threatening. The mother is more pleasant. It's not family friendly and it wouldn't be expected to be, but aside from a few bleeped words and one entire scene where the sound goes out, I guess it's not so bad.

It is a worthy effort.
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Title is misleading, but still worthwhile
17 July 2018
In London, Ellie and Alvin have been married nine years and are bored. Things could be worse, though. Their friends Peter and Janet have two kids and their sex life is nearly non-existent. His sex life is another matter, but that's another issue we'll deal with later.

Co-workers of both Ellie and Alvin make suggestions about what to do to spice up the marriage. Ellie seems to be a fashion designer (very nice logo) and Alvin works with blueprints (probably an architect). One idea is swapping with another couple, which leads to some laughs. Ellie puts an ad on a web site. We meet some of the more colorful couples who are being considered (and stay around for the credits, because some of the funniest and naughtiest material from them is still to come). One couple is selected, and things go pretty well at first. Once a couple is selected, the process all seems perfectly innocent and not dirty at all. But ultimately the plan is not successful, and the rest of the movie is about whether Ellie and Alvin will even stay together, as well as the breakup of Peter and Janet's marriage over his cheating. By the end of the movie, there is hope for at least one and possibly both of the couples.

I hesitate to call this a straight comedy but there are plenty of laughs. It's just that on my TiVo this was identified only as "romance, comedy". It is my opinion that mainly in the second half, this becomes more of a "comedy-drama". But it is entertaining and intelligent nevertheless. It's not constant laugh out loud zaniness.

Mandy Moore is not beautiful but attractive and likeable, and certainly smart and capable of speaking her mind.

Jerry Stiller stands out in a few scenes as Ellie's grandfather. He is a nearly perfect grumpy old man but seems happy with his longtime wife. I don't know who Beverley Klein is but she seems likeable enough. Both are presented with a nasty surprise when they make a surprise visit.

Melissa George does a great job too. Not the most likeable character, but she effectively shows us frustration. I will say this. Janet is not that pretty during most of the movie but she is just plain hot, with gorgeous hair and gorgeous everything else. toward movie's end.

I don't remember his name, but Ellie's gay co-worker also stands out.

Another standout actor does nails and is Asian. I don't remember her name, and she did have only two lines (in different scenes), but she made the most of them. Elizabeth Tan is listed in the credits as "pedicurist", so that must be her

What I really liked about this movie was the music. There are a couple of classical works, but most of the music is jazz, and the good kind of jazz. Not smooth jazz, and not the intellectual, depressing Miles Davis type of jazz either. Fun music that makes me think of Ed Sullivan. And of course the pleasant background music so many movies have. There are also a couple of vocal "standards", really nice music that mature people enjoyed in the 60s while the kids were shocking their parents by blasting this evil rock and roll. One of those accompanies one of the most enjoyable sequences, with flashbacks of Ellie and Alvin meeting in college and the early stages of their relationship, followed by Ellie looking at wedding pictures.

And there is also "music" that reminds me of the green truck that wakes me on Thursdays. In the bar when Ellie's co-worker and his husband (he's quite a character too) explain "swinging", and Ellie's fashion show. Other than the music, that's pretty impressive, and the "music" is appropriate, I guess. Another scene has Peter playing a video game with heavy metal.

Is this family friendly? Given the subject matter, do you even have to ask? Especially when the couples are being interviewed. Once the one couple is selected, it's done quite tastefully, but overall, so many words had to be bleeped for broadcast TV that some scenes make no sense at all.

Overall, it's a pretty enjoyable experience.
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Shark Lake (2015)
Not a classic but not too bad, not scary
12 July 2018
In Alpine Lake, Nevada, two sheriff's deputies go to a house on the lake and find numerous animals, and a cute 3-year-old girl. The cops chase Clint, who is in a van, and he is sent to prison. There is no one to pick up Carly, so she will go to Child Services.

Five years later, Meredith, one of the deputies that discovered Carly, is the girl's mother. Apparently she adopted the girl, but the details are never mentioned. Carly isn't quite as cute any more, but she is cute later, in an edgy way. Meredith is such a good mother, and she really cares about Carly. And her mother is there to help. Clint is out of prison and wants visitation. Meredith has no intention of letting that happen. Also, Don's goons visit Clint at his lake house demanding that he come back to work. Despite having guns, the goons get the same treatment as Rocky Balboa.

People are having fun at the beach, including girls in bikinis. An underwater camera shows ... nothing at this point but there is ominous music.

Christopher and his wife are retired and in a more isolated area. Christopher goes in the lake to pan for gold while his wife goes back for a camera. Underwater camera, ominous music, oh, NOOOOO ...

The sign says bears are active, so the conclusion is that it was a bear attack. Meredith doubts this, and so does Peter, a fish expert who just happens to be in the community for a study, and hears about the controversy in a restaurant. He begins investigating.

Hunters are going after the bear, and yes, we do see one.

But one night there is a bachelorette party at the lake. The camera operators make certain we get a good look at the bikinis. One girl whose bikini is so revealing her rear end has to be blurred on broadcast TV goes in the water with a guy. Underwater camera, ominous music ...

Peter makes a terrible discovery. Given the title of the movie, we know what it really is, right? But where did it come from? I think we know that too. And just in case you don't, Don himself shows up at Clint's place with even more goons and guns this time, and demands what is rightfully his.

A colorful BBC TV host named Garreth shows up and wants to make the capture or killing of the animal into one of his TV episodes, complete with interviews and exciting narration. The girl from the bachelorette party is asked some questions, and she's quite a character too, though not much in the brains department. Also, she's wearing more.

Several plot lines go together to give us some adventure and deliver an exciting climax. Peter and Meredith work together and even show signs of a possible romance. I need to point out a mistake in the listing that came with my TiVo. Meredith is not working with her husband. She is single. I mention this since you might have seen the same mistake somewhere. This is a pretty standard horror/thriller, and not really scary if that's what you're looking for. Not that bloody either, at least when cleaned up for broadcast TV. There is a lot of red water, but not gore, and not that many views of the dangerous animal until later. This movie relies a lot on suspense; you think something is about to happen but don't always get rewarded.

Dolph Lundgren does a surprisingly good job in one scene where Clint shows just how much he loves Carly. He's not consistently talented but does a good enough job.

We get to laugh a few times, especially at Garreth. It's a shame he had to give up on his quest more quickly than we would have liked. Miles Doleac is a real standout here.

Sara Lane does okay as Meredith, particularly when she is a mother, but she's not great. She does have a mouth on her as a lot of her words had to be bleeped.

Lance Nichols is quite good as the sheriff.

Lily Brooks O'Briant may have a future. She's pretty good as young Carly. Matalin Rayborn has a couple of scenes of even younger Carly and she's just adorable. I don't think she speaks but she does smile a lot. If you are the age Carly is in most of the movie, Iu don't really recommend this unless it's cleaned up for broadcast as it was for me, and even then I'd be cautious. But the V-chip rating was TV-PG with L and V.

In "Jaws" they say, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." In this movie, "You're gonna need a boat." and "That's not big enough." I think this gives you an idea of how the two movies compare.

It's not a classic, or even bad enough to be good, but it's not bad.
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First half exciting at times, second half more like scoreless soccer game to an American
2 July 2018
In this fact-based movie, a hundred years in the history of football are shown. If you are American as I am, the game is not football, but soccer. Regardless, it is simpler for me to refer to the game as football since that is the term used most of the time.

In 1902, there is no organized football competition between countries. England has organized competition but will not play teams in other countries. Carl wants to change that. he goes to a football game where the man in charge is yelling at people who do things wrong. Talking to him might not be a good idea, but Carl does talk with another man.

In another scene, a group of men are sitting at a table and FIFA is born.

In 1924, Uruguay wins the Olympic medal in football. Jules Rimet shows up at a meeting to downplay their efforts because Uruguay did not in fact play everyone to get the title, and many of their players were not from there. Rimet soon becomes president of FIFA. And as part of Uruguay's centennial, a real world championship game is proposed, in a new stadium which will seat 100,000 in Montevideo. That game is played in 1930; we see what looks like actual footage along with headlines and footage of newspapers being printed. It's not a lot, but it does represent what happened. The so-called World Cup will be played every four years.

Rimet's daughter Annette is talking to a man at an event. He says Africans can't play football; they're too stupid. Why, for Negroes to play football would be like women playing football! Annette wants to protest but Rimet doesn't defend his daughter. Annette later stands up to people who are arguing and shows she has a mind of her own.

World War II and the events preceding it have a negative effect on competition. In fact, there is one game, which we see a few scenes from (made for the movie, because the film quality is better than in 1930), between Germany and Ukrainian prisoners. Germany will win ... or else. The referees have been paid off. Yet the Ukrainians are very determined ...

After the war life is normal again. We go to a major stadium and there is lots of excitement. We see fans in several locations. Based on the credits and what is possible nowadays, I don't think there were real people in that stadium, or at least actors in this movie were superimposed on actual footage. The game looks like real footage because the film quality is inferior. The first goal is scored and everyone goes crazy. Even the announcer. I don't think he's THAT guy but he does yell, "GOOOOOOOOOAL!" As professional as the announcer is, he is very biased, showing no emotion as the other team scores. There is disappointment in the other locations. And when the game is over, it's like a disaster just happened. The movie's whole tone changes.

We have watched Rimet age many years, and then we see his funeral. Annette does an admirable job with the eulogy.

We fast forward a few more years as a new president of FIFA is elected. The losing candidate is convinced Africans can't play. The winner is a strong supporter of including African teams.

Another game. More excitement. Again, film quality is inferior, so we must be seeing real footage. Someone named Pele appears to be the first superstar in the sport.

By this time the movie is about half over, but it's not quite as exciting any more. We do see another game and plenty of excitement in the scenes associated with the game. Mostly, though, the rest of the movie is about controversy. FIFA is running out of money but one solution is to sell merchandise related to football. World events interfere as tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. make boycotts of the Olympics possible. FIFA must take a stand on Apartheid. Women's teams must be considered. And fans who can't behave themselves are a real problem.

Then there are scandals for which a man who is not even president of FIFA is being blamed. Then he takes over as president and ... well, what WILL he do?

The movie ends about a hundred years after it started, and football has become very popular. We see kids playing, even girls.

I won't call it an Oscar-winning effort but at least the first half is very good for what it is. Sure, it skips over a lot of years, but apparently the most important details are included. And that one game in the 50s shows a wide range of emotion, and really communicates passion for the sport.

The leading actors are shown in the credits but I have to say I didn't recognize any of them. That makes the movie work better because I am seeing the characters, not the actors. I think most of them did a good enough job.

Gerard Depardieu does a good job but I wouldn't exactly say he shows the talent to win an Oscar.

Other than that, no one really stood out, and while we are shown a lot of information after Rimet's tenure, there is educational value (I suppose) but not that much entertainment value.
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Interesting characters in campy and sometimes spooky Western
5 June 2018
In 1879 Arizona, Harlem Gold wants to make everyone aware of his mining town called Religion which he thinks could be the greatest city in the West. To do this, he plans a poker tournament which will draw people from all around. The prize will be a valuable gold cross.

And they come from everywhere. Mr. James, who has an accent that sounds British, writes about the tournament for a newspaper and also plans to write a novel.

One man is from China and claims poker was invented there. There is an Arabian prince who brings his manservant. Waylin Smith is a half-Indian gunfighter who sees ghosts and communicates with them. Smith falls for the single mother of an adorable little girl whose name sounded like Danny (though I don't find that name in the credits) and her sister.

One could say there are two magicians. McCabe uses skill and deception, and his photographic memory. And Anton Stice actually has powers. He may, in fact, be The Devil. In a flashback, he appeared to St. John in jail, when St. John was threatening to kill everyone in sight after he had been locked up for robbing banks. Stice offered him salvation (really?) and St. John came to spread God's word.

And then there is Salt Peter, the most colorful character in the movie. He claims to be from Vienna but has an American accent, and while he has health problems that require drugs, he may just be an addict.. And he is SO OBVIOUSLY GAY. But he denies being "homosexual" and is shown kissing a woman.

Already living in town is carpenter Bobby Shea, who falls for Bootstrap Bess, the Madam who people see to get a hotel room. She also takes care of the working girls, and you don't want to mess with them because Bess will make you regret it. Bess wants to open her own fine hotel. Southern Bill is the likeable bartender. There is a marshal, but only one because that's all Harlem can afford. Later, he needs to be replaced.

Let the games begin!

Competitors are eliminated one by one, either by being defeated, or hurt, or killed, or by breaking the rules, including no cheating, no violence against other players, and guns must be surrendered to the sheriff (what sheriff? I thought this town only had a marshal?).

Excitement builds toward the end, and we have breaks in the action for romance, fights, and weird stuff. There is even a church service. I missed some details due to weather bulletins, but I could see what was going on even if I couldn't hear. One event would be a spoiler so I'll avoid that.

I watch what is on. I could pay more to get movies from sources other than broadcast TV, including paying for regular cable channels. I don't. So this is the second time in a month I have seen a Western where The Devil makes deals for people's souls and we see dead people. It's not that I want to see these but it's what's on.

This is not a family friendly Western but once cleaned up for TV, I suppose it's not too bad, though the V-chip rating was TV-14. I didn't think it was all that violent. The language had to be sanitized a couple of times.

It's not a comedy but there is plenty to laugh at. And some good acting. James Anthony Cotton James Anthony Cotton is your typical old West huckster. And there are Holiday Hadley as Bess, Peter Sherayko as Southern Bill and of course Louie Sabatasso as Salt Peter.

Not exactly groundbreaking, but I suppose it is entertaining if you like Westerns.
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Weather Girl (2009)
Cloudy with drizzle but things are looking up
31 May 2018
It is time for the unbelievably perky Seattle morning show to start. Where is Sylvia? Co-anchors Dale and Sherry want to know.

When Sylvia does show up, she is anything but perky. People later describe her as sassy. She rants about the weather (don't most people in Seattle?). She attacks both Dale, who she has been dating, and Sherry, who Dale has been cheating with, using language that I don't get to hear since I am watching on broadcast TV. Something tells me Seattle viewers weren't so lucky. And her director orders that no one cut away from what she is doing, except maybe to show her co-workers' reactions. This being the age of viral videos, the rant appears online everywhere.

Now Sylvia does not have a job. She moves in with her brother Walt, whose best friend Byron designs web sites despite a graduate degree in philosophy, and he has to use Walt's computer because his is broken. So Sylvia has no privacy. Well, there is one way she can have it, but Walt doesn't like being evicted from his one bedroom.

Other potential employers are excited about the idea of Sylvia working for them, but they have to admit they can't take a chance on her behaving like that again, and viewers are less likely to be so accepting. Walt wants Sylvia to get a job, and she finally gets to the point where she'll take anything. Anything means being a waitress with the very demanding J.D. as her boss.

And Walt wants Sylvia to find a man. Byron is attracted to her, but she's not interested in a commitment to him. There is the responsible, reliable Charles, but Sylvia can't stand him.

Maybe a relationship with Byron is possible. Can it really happen?

More importantly, Sylvia finds the perfect job. But it's not so perfect.

This is a cute if slightly edgy romantic comedy. I think we all want to root for Sylvia. And Tricia O'Kelley is pleasant enough, when she is not going nuts.

Fans of "The Mick" or even "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" might be disappointed that Kaitlin Olson has such a small role, or that she's not nearly as likable here as she is in those shows. Sherry is either too perky, too boring (when she and Dale apologize for their co-worker's rant), too terrified or too nuts. The fact is the role of Sylvia seems to have been written for Olson. O'Kelley's delivery in many scenes appears very much like Mickey on "The Mick", including some personality quirks. I'm thinking particularly about what could be described as a stammer. O'Kelley is prettier, but it is Olson's personality that she seems to be giving us.

Mark Harmon gives us both conceited perfect anchor, a common stereotype, and a somewhat appealing character who we're really not supposed to like. I know he's respected, but I'm not sure he is in a role worthy of his talent.

I don't know who Patrick Adams is. I guess we're supposed to like him. I do find myself rooting for him but I'm not sure why.

Jane Lynch isn't as evil as her award-winning Sue Sylvester, but she's bad enough. Meaning good enough.

I don't know the names of Sylvia's potential bosses, but several of them really stand out. Great performances, for the material.

It's worth seeing.
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Fun and funny road trip, not brilliant
22 May 2018
We're not sure just what's going on when this movie begins. Given Charlie Sheen's reputation, it seems perfectly logical that he's living in a disaster of an apartment with a girl walking around with not a lot on. Actually, Sheen is the straight-laced, proper roommate and it is T.S. who is responsible for the place being a mess. And if you didn't know, they would go on to appear together in "Spin City" years later.

So Paul (Sheen) goes to work and is told by Senator Kitteridge to deliver his teen daughter to what is essentially a reform school. She has become too rebellious and it's time to teach her a lesson. The senator wants someone he can trust. Seriously? Charlie Sheen? Well, at this stage in his career he is quite believable as a proper, professional yuppie.

Poor Robin is brought outside highly sedated and placed in Paul's care. You can depend on me, sir! But wait, he can't do the job alone. T.S. needs to come along.

Robin sobers up and soon shows signs of just why her father wanted to correct her behavior. Poor Paul has such a hard time, and it's a good thing he has help driving. And every opportunity Robin gets, she takes off, with hilarious results. Such as the poor truck driver who makes no secret of his Christian faith, though he seems anything but Christian as he defends Robin from these ruffians who are after her. Or so she says. Not a great role for James Avery, who was praised so highly in Will Smith's Oscar speech, only a couple of years before he became Uncle Phil. But pretty good. And if you disliked his behavior ... well, Robin is clumsy.

We keep moving down the road, crossing state lines. Lots of wild car chases and stunts, with some excellent work by drivers who really have to be careful what they're doing.

Robin is actually a sweet and misunderstood girl, but wait until you see what she gets away with in a fine restaurant just because she's a senator's daughter.

And then it's time to spend the night in a motel. That's when the real fun begins, but not before we get to see Robin in her underwear. I assume it's underwear, because why would she have a swimsuit?

Robin meets up with Missy, who is leaving her abusive boyfriend Junior. Actually, I'm not sure which one's tougher. And they have fun, kind of like Thelma and Louise. Meanwhile, the guys end up without a car and have to hitchhike. Things go from bad to worse when they meet up with Stu, a struggling salesman. Way out in the middle of nowhere the guys end up in their underwear in a swamp. But things are about to get a whole lot better. No, I don't know where they found clothes, or answers to any number of mysteries. but they do find an expensive car owned by a drunk loser whose Daddy has money. I'm not sure but I think that's the same Junior that Missy escaped.

The best car chase of the entire movie involves Junior's car, and wait until you see how that ends!

It's not all wild action. There are a couple of sweet scenes involving Paul and Robin.

Robin wants to meet her mother, who apparently abandoned her years ago. I had seen Sally Kellerman's name in the credits, and I saw the movie "M*A*S*H", but have seen every episode of the TV series at least once, some many times. The woman who looked like Loretta Swit had to be her. And she explains that it's not as bad as her daughter thinks it is. Kellerman is actually pretty good but is this movie truly worthy of someone who starred in one of the greatest of all films?

Many laws are broken and one disaster after another gives us a really wild ending. Only in the movies!

I don't think anyone is watching this movie looking for superior writing and acting, but if you want wild and wacky adventures this is pretty good.

Sheen is totally different from anything else I have ever seen him in, except maybe "Wall Street", but it has been a while so i don't even remember. So proper and responsible. So nice when the situation calls for it. And then he ends up in situations Charlie Harper could have easily found himself in. I'm not sure he's that good when he has to be angry, but he gets the job done.

I've never heard of Kerri Green but it's a shame. She was quite good, really, given the material.

I know Alan Ruck best as a womanizing jerk in "Spin City" but he is so different here and much more likable.

Is this family friendly? Cleaned up for TV, maybe it's acceptable for older kids. You can't be too mature and still appreciate this. How convenient that some of the worst language in the movie was probably bleeped out by car horns and such.

It's a fun adventure if your expectations aren't too high.
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Writing and acting: Double after center fielder dropped the ball; Pretty girls: Home run!
17 May 2018
Holly is a former model who wants to open her own modeling agency. She is the only female playing on the Hornets softball team with her cousin Jake, who is the coach as well as one of the best players.

At a bar, Jake is arguing with Gary, the coach of another team in the league, about how good he is. Gary claims Jake's team is good because it has so many good players. After drinking, Jake claims he could win the championship with a team made up entirely of female models like Holly. Jake already has a gambling problem which leads to visits from big rough guys, and he bets Gary $5,000--no, make that $50,000--that he can turn a group of models into a championship team.

Jake wakes up the next day. Did he really do that? Can he get out of the bet? No, Gary is insisting he go through with it. So next time he meets with the team, he has to make the terrible announcement. All the other male players will have to join other league teams, and his team will be female models or former models, except for him.

The recruiting starts with Holly's shallow, empty-headed and gorgeous roommates. Okay, Olive is actually sort of smart, meaning street-smart. She is manipulative, like the girls in clips I have seen from reality shows, or in parodies of those shows. The actress playing her is really good, if you can call that acting. We're not here for the acting. Kat is athletic. She played cricket, which is a lot like softball. Wait, she finally hits the ball! And runs to ... third?

As expected, Jake ends up with a team made up mostly of bored girls with little ability who can't give up their phones. The result of the first league game is predictable. It was hoped the girls would be enough of a distraction that the guys on the other team wouldn't play their best. That worked later when the girls flirted or otherwise acted like girls, and when they took off their tops and revealed their bras (not sports bras with full coverage, either). But not here. One umpire, though, can be manipulated. Remember Tom Hanks' quote, "There's no crying in baseball!" There is in softball.

All league games are broadcast by Big Wave Dave (hey, I remember a TV series about him, or at least someone with that name) on a station so far to the left on the AM dial real radios don't have the frequency. Also, broadcast standards apparently don't apply. Some of Dave's comments don't make it past the censors who got the movie ready for broadcast.

New members join the team. Christine was a spectator in the first game shown, when Jake still had only guys and Holly on his team. She had a one-night stand with Gary, but now she wants to play. For Jake. Rachel is Jake's ex, who Jake visits at work. No, absolutely not. No way! Okay, she later changes her mind. Millie is a plus-size model, and butch. That counts. The girl playing her has skills that indicate she must be an Olympic competitor like her character, not an actress.

Over time, the girls get better, but not that much better, and Jake and others scheme to change Gary's mind. In one scene, Holly is on a date with Gary, hoping she can make him see her point of view. Meanwhile, Jake needs help getting the goons to stop coming after him for bets he already lost.

About halfway through the movie the girls are on the beach in bikinis. There are cameras, so they must be at work. Although a Hornets calendar is mentioned, so it's not clear whether they are doing their actual jobs. It doesn't matter. The point is the girls are having fun in bikinis. Holly is covered up more, but she still looks hot.

So will the girls actually win the championship? There are plenty of obstacles, but they are actually overcome and the girls do much more than we thought possible. Otherwise, why would there even be a movie? The big question is how far can they go.

Tarah DeSpain as Holly is quite intelligent in addition to looking good. Most of the time she doesn't try to look hot. Holly is an athlete, after all. But when she tries, she looks amazing.

Rob Cesterino as Big Wave Dave stands out. His radio skills are worthy of the non-existent AM frequency he is heard on.

We're not here for the acting, but I guess it's okay. What is most important is how the girls look in those really short shorts. And less, when the situation calls for it. Plus there's plenty of humor.

Is this family friendly? Far from it. The sound goes out a lot (in the version I saw) and when it does, a character's mouth is obscured. I already mentioned the radio broadcast. In some scenes, very little is left and it's hard to tell what happened. Actually, it's not. But the dialogue is (apparently) unbelievably crude. It's amazing what the macho jerks can get away with.

I hesitate to use the word "music" to describe what I heard a lot of. Many of the songs got repeated a lot. It appears they were targeting the macho jerks like the softball players. Except a lot of the vocalists were female. So maybe women can like that "music" as well. There was music, though. One scene had rock and roll from the era when Elvis first became popular, which resembles what might be called rock in other scenes about as much as these girls resemble Roseanne Barr. There is another scene with a nice acoustic guitar, and one where one of the girls is doing yoga. No, I don't care for that new age mess either. There is also what is called "alternative", which is a style of rock which I think women like.

Overall, I had a good time.
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Beyond (III) (2014)
Depressing
8 May 2018
In a store somewhere in a city in England, Cole is trying to stop a robber, but doesn't quite succeed, so Michael's life is changed. We don't really follow Michael's story, but Michael keeps showing up. And as the attempted robbery is taking place, a news story on the TV tells about the light in the sky that is getting bigger.

Cole is not really a pleasant person, but he meets Maya in a place of business where people drink, dance and have sex in costumes. Such as the woman dressed as Hitler and the man dressed as Jesus. Yes, at this point we get to laugh. And Maya is pretty and nice. She has a positive influence on Cole, a construction worker who hasn't done what he wanted in life. Meanwhile, the tabloid newspaper has a headline about the mysterious object.

So will this object hit Earth and cause devastation? Cole and Maya discuss. Maya would prefer to just enjoy her final days, knowing it would all be over. At this point, no one can even say it will definitely hit, and even if we could be sure, would we prepare for it?

Then the movie gets confusing. Cole is out in the country and seems lost. He hasn't eaten. There is a girl with red hair but she's not pretty like Maya. Later we find out her name is Maya. Eventually, we learn that some scenes are taking place "after" instead of "before" and it is dangerous to be out at night. "They" want to kill everyone. The only solution is to go to Norway with some other people, where it will never get dark. Until Winter. We'll figure out what to do about Winter when it happens.

In the "before" scenes, news stories about the mystery object continue. Efforts to stop it fail. It IS heading toward Earth and is big enough to end all life. Maya is pregnant. But no one wants to have babies under the current circumstances. No one should. Also, no one is building, so Cole can't get work. As Maya makes her doctor visits, Cole and Michael meet again. And when the event is about to happen, things get quite complicated indeed.

And "after", who can be trusted? Will they find the people they lost touch with? What will this weird man do?

I was expecting yet another bad disaster movie. This is not what i got. This film wasn't so bad it was good. It was merely bad.

That's not to say it wasn't quality work. I'm sure it was. It just didn't entertain me all that much. Paul Brannigan as the store clerk may have given the standout performance, in his later scenes. I didn't remember who he was until the comment was made by Cole about the incident in the store.

Maybe you'll like it. But it's not one of these bad dsiaster movies.
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Supernatural Western at least has campy Lucifer
1 May 2018
Grant Dillon was treated like family by the McCraes. And how did he reward them? In 1860, he killed nearly all of them and took over their land, looking for a type of metal with a unique property. Lane McCrae made a deal with Lucifer so his brother Cody would live. It was explained to us that a person who is already dead but not yet judged can make a deal with Lucifer to come back to Earth and take revenge on the person who killed him, at which time he becomes human again, but Lucifer gets his soul. Demons have glowing red eyes when they get mad, and if they get really mad they look like characters from one of the "Star Trek" series. If they are "killed", they burst into flame but disappear quickly.

Throughout the Civil War, Lane chases after Dillon but can never catch him. In 1865 he arrives in Furnace Creek, California and someone calls him "Six Gun". He is later identified as "The Savior". Lane joins up with Liz, who is beautiful but tough and cheats men at cards and was apparently his ex. Also joining him are Hawk and Muna. Muna is a shaman's daughter whose entire village was killed, and yet she has a pleasant personality, while still courageous. Lane speaks her language.

Dillon wears an eye patch and is unbelievably cruel. He gives orders to a red-haired woman named Zathera who can brings others back to life, and when she has done that, he puts her back in the mine where he was holding her prisoner. Why she has to be his prisoner is not clear, because she has powers you wouldn't believe, and later on she is on her own. The dead person sees his own body, while we see him and Zathera looking very strange, making it clear they are not "real". Zathera explains the terms of the deal and he agrees to them.

Lane and his group have several objectives. They have to save Cody, but Lucifer complicates the situation. A green glowing item resembling a piece of blackboard chalk gives certain people power to make others do anything. And then there is a smaller purple glowing item.

Capturing Dillon and saving the world from Zathera both prove to be quite complicated.

And then there is the cute little girl in what appears to be a white nightgown who proclaims the message of God's forgiveness.

Not only that, but another event similar to what happened in the time of Noah could be happening. Not a flood, but we know what Zathera can do, and she and Lucifer are not on the same side.

This is a little different from a typical Western. While the themes of people dressed as cowboys (it's not clear what their jobs are) riding horses and wanting revenge is fairly typical, the supernatural qualities are unique. There's not that much special here, though.

Lucifer is quite a character. He is more deliciously evil than Dillon, who is just evil. While there aren't a lot of laughs here, Lucifer is sort of funny. And we do have the occasional funny line, such as when someone asks if anyone is ever going to teach Muna English.

Violence is typical for a Western, but many more people die, if you count demons disappearing, and even if you don't. There is what is described as a "massacre", but it is supernatural, not bloody. It is still scary.

Not my taste, but some might enjoy it.
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Yellow Rock (2011)
Pretty good Western which respects Native American traditions while disrespecting "Injuns"
17 April 2018
Black Feather, great-grandson of Angry Wolf and the last of his tribe, narrates at the beginning and the end as we see a group of Native Americans on horses. His message is simple. The white man has a disease that the Native Americans are immune to, and other things are more important than money; once all of those other things are gone, what good is money?

Tom Hammen goes to the church where his eight-year-old son was buried and lights a candle. Dietrich asks where to find Tom, and is told to go to the church. Dietrich says his brother and son are missing and in order to find them, it will be necessary to cross territory belonging to local Native Americans. He needs Tom's help and gives him $20 in gold, with more to come when the job is completed. A bunch of roughnecks will go along with them; their names are Cobb, Farley, Billy and Roscoe.

Sarah, a woman with long red hair, is giving medical treatment to the Native Americans. It's not clear at first whether she is actually a doctor but we later learn she is. When Tom and the others arrive, she helps the reluctant members of the tribe to understand Tom. A group of men go off by themselves to discuss the situation. Tom can be trusted, but what about the others? It is agreed that Broken Wing will go along, and the men are informed that sacred burial grounds are not to be entered.

Sarah goes along with the group to translate. Broken Wing goes along too and though he warns the group not to go through sacred burial grounds, they do anyway. It is quite creepy with a lot of smoke and weird music. There may be a curse on those who violate this area. Wolves appear but they may have been there to protect the group. However, these appear more likely to attack. The goal is eventually reached, after more obstacles. It's not what you might think. Hint: what is the movie's title and what did I say Black Feather said ? This is a Western so of course there was shootin' and fightin'. Nothing too graphic but there was some blood. The sound went out several times and a character's mouth was covered by a rectangle. There is more emphasis on a strong woman, meaning the doctor, unlike some older Westerns. Sarah is played by Lenore Andriel, who was a writer and producer as well. Native American traditions are respected, even if the bad guys constantly disrespect the "Injuns". Since the actor playing Broken Wing is listed as "Native American consultant", I assume he is doing everything right. It's not an important or classic western, but it is okay.
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Outstanding job with a few glitches but a powerful message
3 April 2018
I knew very little about this production. I had heard three of the songs and that was about it. What I now know that is most important is that it was nothing like I had believed it would be. Most of the production is about the last week in the life of Jesus.

When I was in the 8th grade, I had gym class when the band practiced. The band room's windows were open and I was often outside. One of their musical numbers was a medley of at least two of the songs. The ones I remember are the title song and another song with the word "Hosanna". I did not know the lyrics, except for the words "Jesus Christ, superstar." I still don't. I had a hard time hearing the lyrics of these two songs, especially that second song which sounded like complete nonsense.

The other song I was familiar with was "I Don't Know How to Love Him". America's Best Music is a network of radio stations including WNAM Oshkosh, WI, which I can hear online. The network has played this song for several years and in fact did so the day of the NBC special. No DJs were around to tell us if this was significant, and it may have been a coincidence. Sara Bareilles did a fine job with the song (and so did someone else, delivering a powerful emotional performance) and with another soft and relatively pleasant number, and in her roles in other songs. My one complaint about her character Mary Magdalene is that she seemed to want to be Jesus' boyfriend, and that was likely the intention of the writers.

I was expecting all rock, but the production had a wide variety of musical styles. Much of the music was 60s style rock with some jazz influence. For the most part, the music was not my taste but we won't concern ourselves with that. The musicians and dancers/actors all seemed quite talented. costumes were modern, and this being based on a musical from the era of hippies, that's exactly how many of the actors looked.

I don't know whether the original had heavy metal (though Jimi Hendrix had invented it), but this version did in several scenes. For me, that really detracted from the message. Ironically, the first shock rocker Alice Cooper did not even perform a rock song, but his brief but memorable performance was campy Prohibition-era style, similar to New Orleans jazz (a musical style I enjoyed) with a brief detour into rock. The song resulted in the only laughs I remember. Dancers wore clothes that would have been expected of sinful entertainment venues of that era. Cooper himself looked like he did performing back in the day, except being a king he dressed more like Liberace or Porter Wagoner.

The first solo performer was Brandon Victor Dixon. I had no idea who he was but instead found out later when he was being persuaded to do what Judas is best known for. Between the very enthusiastic live audience and the musicians, I could hardly hear Dixon. Sound was a problem for me in many of the numbers, in fact. Overall he did a phenomenal job and I could hear him later. Judas was written differently than I am used to, not as a bad man who was greedy but as a man trying to do good and unable to explain this to Jesus. When the situation called for it he could deliver so much emotion. He also did a song and dance number that could be described as a show-stopper.

The men who wanted Jesus dead performed after we were introduced to Jesus. The sound improved and they mostly did a good job, but I question having some of their words sung. Not all the words in this production were sung and a few of their words just seemed forced. This one black man with a bass or low baritone voice did a great job. Another man seemed to have difficulty hitting low notes and it took away from his message.

John Legend did a fine job, but wasn't the best performer, hitting high tenor notes and even really low bass, and later doing what the Bee Gees made famous. It is an exaggeration to say he hit notes only a dog could hear, but he was close. He came across as a confused and frustrated man, but later he delivered passion (in both senses) that was totally on a different level.

One important event was missing from the production, in my opinion, and I'm not sure non-believers or people not familiar with the story would have really gotten the right message. A very bright light appeared in place of what I was expecting and the entire TV screen turned white. And right before this happened, actors didn't even have to say a word. Their facial expressions and actions showed they had witnessed something amazing, something that had changed their lives. Perhaps that was enough. It surely got the point across to those who know the story. And it was a powerful message for those who have some knowledge of what happened.

And why was Jesus frustrated? He was a "superstar", a celebrity. He was often surrounded by people who wanted something. The disciples were having trouble understanding his message and Judas was clearly out to get him. And He was attacked by overzealous journalists in a clearly inappropriate (and therefore appropriate) setting. Some of the journalists used 20th century technology. And one even had something I know the original production did not: a smartphone!

I do want to single out one more great performer, Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate. What a commanding presence! He wasn't one of the four leading performers--I refer to the four who bowed together after all the others at the end of the NBC production. But he certainly stood out.

Not having any knowledge of the original, I don't have anything to compare this to. But NBC had another winner here, with only a few glitches and some amazing accomplishments on display.
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Very funny
3 April 2018
I did not see the entire movie. The listings said it started at 2 and that's when recording started. But when I watched, the commercial break ended precisely as the recording started. Already, Jake had foolishly invested his church's money and he was telling FBI agent Brian. In a related story (as I realized later), Brian had to find a place for a family in witness protection to stay. He chose the home of his Aunt Madea and her brother Uncle Joe. As soon as I saw the family, I realized I knew them. Earlier in the day, I turned on a different TV with a DVR that records from an antenna (the other DVR uses cable) and met a dysfunctional family. I didn't have time to watch any more of this movie, as I had something to watch that the DVR had recorded, but I assumed I had seen it somewhere and could tell I would have really enjoyed it. I even checked the listings (which I don't normally do) and saw "To be announced". No, this channel is not on cable and I wouldn't have seen what it was showing anyway. The bratty teenage daughter resented being told to accept her father's second wife.

Yes, these people were as much fun as I assumed they would be when I was introduced. A lot of details were missing but I was able to figure out what had happened. Eugene Levy's George was in charge of keeping records but was not one of the bad guys. He simply had to prove this to others in the FBI, though Brian believed him. Meanwhile, the family was going to have to deal with the oversize personality of Aunt Madea, and her comical brother. Not easy, considering Cindy had no respect for anyone. Aunt Madea wasn't having that. And she came up with a solution for Cindy's sass eventually. Doris Roberts was funny as a family member losing her mind.

Whether she could act or not, Denise Richards sure was pretty to look at, and even if Cindy hated her, she was nice enough. And I'm not overly critical. Richards seemed good enough to me.

Eugene Levy, of course, gave his usual good performance doing what he does best, a frustrated and somewhat wimpy man who can't seem to cope with all the chaos around him.

John Amos did his usual fine job as the pastor. I don't quite understand why he would be here, because years ago he complained about a quality TV series he co-starred in being taken over by a clown. This is different? Maybe he needed the money, but of course he added to the quality here.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of Tyler Perry, he was great here in three very different roles, and the visual effects crew made him appear to be in scenes with himself quite convincingly. Dignified as the FBI agent, silly as Uncle Joe, and, well, what can you say about Madea? I've seen a couple of her movies and you just have to like her, if you are capable of it. She won't take that kind of business from anyone, but if you let her show you love, she will. What I wasn't expecting was the road trip, and getting through airport security was absolutely hilarious. And Madea in the big city? Priceless! All the deception and scheming really made this work for me.

And what a choir! I'm not really a fan of black church music, but these people were fantastic.

No, it won't win Oscars. It's just fun.
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Magma: Volcanic Disaster (2006 TV Movie)
Not a disaster, unless you were one of the victims
19 March 2018
The movie does not start well. The writing, acting and sound are all about as bad as it gets, suggesting the entire movie may end up being a disaster. Not true. But the long-dormant Iceland volcano with an unpronounceable name starting with "Troll" does erupt suddenly and quickly, with terrible consequences for the people we didn't likely enjoy watching.

University geology professor Dr. Peter Shepherd is teaching a class. After the bell rings, geochemistry graduate student Bree says she wants to join him on an expedition to another Iceland volcano. She knows he lost the one person who would know chemistry, and despite his protests, she perseveres and ends up on the team, which includes Kai, Christopher (there is a C.J. in the credits, so I guess that's him), Jacques, and others whose names I don't remember. Bree is too perky and enthusiastic to be believable as an intelligent scientist, but that will change later.

Once again, a long-dormant Iceland volcano comes back to life way too quickly, but this time, rescuers arrive in time. Something serious is going on. In the first of many newscasts with ominous footage and an anchor lacking in personality (who we don't see), we learn thousands died. One theory for these volcanoes and others is natural gas drilling in the area. But many more of the world's best-known volcanoes are erupting suddenly and causing catastrophic damage. Surely this is not a man-made phenomenon.

Well, maybe it is. Another theory is that the sum of all human activity has caused something to happen in Earth's core, and unless it is stopped, all life on Earth could vanish.

Peter visits his former mentor Oskar, a creepy bald man in a wheelchair who has an accent and has quit the U.S. Geological Survey because his boss and former student Dr. Kincaid is impossible to deal with. Oskar has predicted Fuji will erupt next and he wants to be there. Yes, he knows the risks if Fuji behaves like the other volcanoes did. And from the sound of the next newscast we hear, much of Japan is gone. No, we only see the mountain blow its top and the nearby results.

Peter's ex Natalie works at Yellowstone, where Old Faithful is failing to live up to its name. Could this be connected? Shepherd and Bree talk about his relationship, and later Peter and his wife have a talk.

Peter and Bree appear before a government committee and present the far-fetched theory. Kincaid is not impressed and says only that volcanoes behave a certain way and give warnings, unlike the ones that have recently erupted. As Kiliminjaro and others come to life causing catastrophic destruction (Rome is essentially gone), Kincaid and those who doubted have to admit something must be done. By the way, we don't see these other events except for some news footage.

Peter and his team go to Ecuador to study what can be done to predict and deal with the eruptions. Somehow they end up in Colombia at a copper mine guarded by a man with a gun who speaks no English. Weird things have happened there. Once they are in the mine, the team gathers the information they need, and then we see more excitement. This time the terrifying events last a while and we get some suspense. One question: if this tunnel is not on a map, why does it have electric lights? Did our team put them there? I doubt it.

It is time to take action. Peter has enough information to go to the U.S. Navy. Other nations join in the fight. The President of the United States addresses the nation. Though he is no Kiefer Sutherland, he does a good job. But could it be too late? And is Natalie in danger?

This is on the level of a TV-movie, but not as much of a disaster as some disaster movies. The actors playing Peter and Bree are actually pretty good, once Bree is no longer perky (or perhaps you can count her perky behavior as good acting). The writing is about on the same level as the typical movie of this type, but the last half-hour or so is quite exciting. Some actors with only a few lines seem like they are sitting around the table reading their lines for the first time.

The visual effects are competently done but not spectacular. In most scenes we see only the minimum necessary to communicate what is happening, but toward the end we get a little more detail. Violence is not graphic (unless you count people catching on fire, but even then you can't really see anything) but several people surely die. In one case we are told the person died.

This isn't bad enough to be good, but it's good enough not to be bad.
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Leprechaun (1993)
Scary but often funny and mostly enjoyable
8 March 2018
I'm not a horror movie fan but in recent years I've found the experience of watching some horror movies to be rewarding. This is one of the good ones, at least when it isn't too scary. And even then, I suppose it is a satisfying experience for some horror fans.

Warwick Davis makes an excellent villain. Not an iconic one, and not really my taste. But he is fun and even funny, with a sick and demented sense of humor and very violent tendencies. There are only a few acts of violence, and even some that occur offscreen, but most of these are quite bloody. I'm not sure how much of his look is makeup and how much is visual effects, but his appearance is quite well done. I would even compare him to Jim Carrey's Grinch, though only his clothes are green. I will say he is quite good at scary surprise experiences, though I found I could often predict when he would pop up and frighten people. If real horror fans can do this, maybe this is not a good thing.

The start of the movie is not what I would consider ideal, since it does suggest the horror theme quite early. But it sets up what comes later, which is what I really enjoyed.

An entirely different movie starts with the first appearance of the spoiled Tory, upset about being taken away from her precious California with its malls, and her father. Now this is a light-hearted comedy, with Tory struggling to adjust to this terrible place. And Jennifer Aniston was quite pretty at that age. She's still pretty now, but this is different. Plus she wears shorts through most of the film. After I enjoyed so much of her recent work, it was nice to see her in an early role (yes, I know, but doing that would involve Ross, Phoebe and Monica and I'm not prepared to do that). Aniston is so good here I would not be surprised if producers of a certain TV series saw her and liked her.

We are soon introduced to the three guys who are fixing up the rundown O'Grady place (which looks pretty nice but I'm probably seeing it as it was brand-new). I especially liked Robert Gorman as young Alex, who probably shouldn't have been doing the kind of work the older men did. I don't know the name, but he showed potential and I now see he went on to do a lot more, which is not surprising.

Mark Holton is a likeable Ozzie, who from the way everyone talks must be what used to be called mentally challenged. I didn't see it myself, but Ozzie wasn't as intelligent as some people. He is childlike and idealistic and believes in the fantastic, unlike the others. And he is right.

Ken Olandt, I assume, will appeal to the females who like good-looking sensitive macho guys. I liked him too as the leader of the workers.

If you remember Larry and his brothers Darryl, after Ozzie finds the gold coins belonging to the title villain, "my other brother Darryl" actually gets to speak as the main who Ozzie and Alex take the coin to in order to find if it is worth anything.

Eventually everything starts going wrong, and there is plenty of excitement and terror, and not as much comedy unless you count the darker type. You wonder if anyone will make it out alive. But these young people are quite skilled at coming up with solutions to their crisis. It's interesting to watch how they get out of their predicament--if any of them do!

It's not too bad if you don't want just horror.
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Has trouble making up its mind what it should be, but rewarding and funny at the end
1 March 2018
Jimmy (JD as he likes to be called) lives in Santa Monica and he is white, but he acts "street". His stepfather Allen just got a job as vice-principal of his former school in Florida, so he, schoolteacher wife Katie and JD are moving. At the same time, JD's father Bobo is getting out of prison. He is met by two members of his motorcycle gang, one of which talks like The Tasmanian Devil, and yet the other gang members somehow understand him. These guys seem more like The Three Stooges than anyone we should be afraid of.

JD is put in a class taught by Mrs. Goble, strict but caring and a former teacher of Allen's. JD sits beside Jamal, the one black kid, and tries to make friends with him. This is a mistake, since Jamal, nicknamed "Preacher", is a nerd and very religious, and the other kids don't like him.

Bobo and friends go to JD's old school. In one of his letters, JD said he was moving, but Bobo wants to find out where, and the frightened secretary has to just let him go through the files.

JD alienates the other boys by treating them like hicks, and showing his gang tattoo. And it doesn't help that Allen tries too hard to be cool and usually seems like a bumbling idiot. JD refuses to consider him his father. The girls, particularly Gigi, like JD's bad boy attitude.

The gang is on their way to Florida. Each time we see them, the same grunge song plays (I think I have my terminology right) to let us know we should be scared of them.

Allen wants to start a Boy Scout troop. JD says the boys at this school won't be interested. The girls might be. Soon, a troop of "Adventure Scouts", with both boys and girls, is learning about values and having fun. Even JD seems to be enjoying it. Eventually, they go camping.

The gang arrives in town while the kids are in the woods. First they intimidate the old man who runs a bar who claims his bar is closed. It's open for them, and everything is free. GOT IT? And the one cop can't do any better than Barney Fife. This town is in trouble.

I can say this because it is essentially the summary of the movie given in my TiVo TV listings. What happens next is a lot like what happened to the bad guys in "Home Alone".

And then there is the amazing ending. There have to be some surprises, but I will say only that it is not what anyone would have expected.

Those who made this movie had trouble making up their minds what it would be. It looks like it will be a family comedy, and at times it is. And sometimes it is serious. But it seems more like a project done by a group of people just enjoying themselves rather than a professional production. And the closing credits indicate that may be just what this was. Some actors seem more like they were chosen because they were someone's friends rather than for their abilities. In some cases the acting looks like what we see in celebrities who make appearances on TV or in movies but are not otherwise known for their acting. Again, the credits show this to be the case.

Along with the acting, the writing isn't that great either. But this movie manages to teach values without really getting preachy. One scene really drives home the point, with JD really standing out. And the movie offers some fun too. You have to be patient because the real reward comes toward the end. And, in fact, "Home Alone" is best known for scenes that took place near the end.

I mentioned that this could be thought of as family comedy. It's not really for young children, because of the bad language (a few words were apparently bleeped) and some adult themes. The bikers are kind of scary, but a lot of the threatening behavior happens off screen. The scenes that would create the most concern are not that bad. But nearly all the violence, and maybe all of it, is slapstick.

The music is quite effective in the funny scenes. I mention this because if you weren't sure you were supposed to be laughing, the music helps you to know.

I need to single out several actors. Jadon Fitzpatrick as JD is okay, but he is at this best when really trying to act tough, and another great scene is the one where we see how much he learned. There is also Sydney Post, who is listed as playing Cameron. I remember a cute girl named Cammie, so that must be her. She's not that great an actress but has a couple of scenes where she shows talent. Mostly, she has a really adorable personality. You just have to like her. The real standout performer is the one who we can't understand. And while Corbin Timbrook isn't always that great as Bobo, he can be scary.

I also should mention Pepe Douglas as Mr. Smith, who is quite a character in a couple of scenes, and Elaine Stebbins as Mrs. Goble, an ideal teacher representing what teachers were in the past.

it's not a masterpiece and it won't win any awards, but you might just like it when it is funny.
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Young Adult (2011)
Comedy? I don't think so, but well done anyway
15 February 2018
This was described as a comedy. I didn't see many laughs. Overall, this movie was actually quite depressing, but because Charlize Theron is such a good actress, it wasn't all that bad. And Patton Oswalt added a lot as a likeable loser. I know him best as the "Goldbergs" narrator but I may soon see much more of him as a loser of a principal in "A.P. Bio". I liked him there too. Yes, he plays losers very well.

One example of how good Charlize Theron is in this movie is the fact that, to me, she seemed sane but troubled. Could she have been mentally ill? Possibly. Really going off the deep end might have been another way to go, and she's good enough as an actress that would have worked. That's just not how this movie was done, and it may have been more enjoyable for me personally as a result. What appealed to me most was how good-looking she is. It is true that in the early, depressing scenes in the Minneapolis high-rise, with the Kardashians (I know this from the credits) on the TV, I didn't know who she was since I hadn't seen the credits, and I didn't think she was pretty either. Later, when she made an effort to look good and put on a sexy dress, Mavis looked amazing.

It added something to hear Mavis narrate her book. And we could see her writing process as she listened to actual girls talk and started typing.

For a mentally unbalanced girl going after her ex, though, you can't do better than the CW series "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend", and that show is actually funny.

Let me add more about Matt. He was sort of the voice of reason here. He had many logical things to say, and despite Mavis' reaction to him, he was actually doing pretty well with his life. Not a success by most definitions, but he wasn't really using his disabilities to keep from facing life either.

On the other hand, I found his sister's behavior surprising at the end.

The actors playing the Slades also did a good job and their characters reacted well to the presence of this possible troublemaker. They could have acted in the expected way but didn't. Buddy was generally pleasant to Mavis.

I suppose it goes without saying this isn't family-friendly. The language was obviously cleaned up in several scenes and I was grateful.

I find it curious that Hampton Inn was willing to be identified by name and yet be represented by a clerk with the attitude "What-EVER. I'm just here until I get through with college and then I'm OUTTA here." Not a good image for a real hotel chain, but a good if brief performance.

The music must have been what Charlize Theron liked, or possibly her fans. It did not appeal to me, and that's probably to be expected. That's not to say all the music was bad. There was a girl singing "We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters. And my favorite music was played on acoustic guitar. It was simply background music used several times with the action going from one location to another with no dialogue. Each time, Mavis was having her nails done at one point, although the third time, a stand-up bass was playing in the nail salon and a piano was added after that.

There are plenty of people, I'm sure, who would enjoy this type of movie. It just wasn't as good for someone with my taste as other movies.
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Best Defense (1984)
Exciting, funny
25 January 2018
In 1982 Wylie is working for a company located in a former bowling alley which is about to go under. In 1984 Lt. Landry is demonstrating a tank in Kuwait that causes chaos. This is confusing, but the events are related.

Wiley meets a man in a bar who is designing technology for a tank and is about to meet with KGB spy Jeff. Fearing what may happen (and he is right), he sneaks his design into Wylie's briefcase.

Wylie finds the technology, and given that he will save his company by doing so, he reluctantly goes along with a co-worker's scheme to pass the work off as his own. The technology doesn't work perfectly but it can be improved. Wylie secretly asks a co-worker to investigate the plan further and discovers even worse problems.

During all this Wylie also cheats on his wife with boss Clair and runs for his life from Jeff and other goons.

And let's not forget Landry, who has troubles of his own. With plenty of silliness from the natives.

In the end, we have to wonder if Wylie can fix the problems before Landry gets blown up by a tank that has already performed poorly.

This is no masterpiece, but it's pretty good and offers lots of laughs and excitement. The ending is especially satisfying.

Dudley Moore does a pretty good job. I'm aware he has received acclaim for some of his roles. This isn't one of them.

I know David Rasche best as a reckless cop supposedly based on Dirty Harry. He's nearly as talented here. Eddie Murphy dies what he does best: laugh and cry. However, I've seen better from him.

Don't expect too much, and I don't believe this film will disappoint.
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Riot (II) (2013)
Hard to follow, depressing, violent, might be a quality production
23 January 2018
In this fact-based movie, London is on fire. The cops are doing their best to contain the chaos, but it's difficult. One month earlier, a group of cops storm an apartment and arrest some people. I'm not clear on what's going on or whether it has a connection with the title event. Damien is a cynical cop who doesn't quite fit the ideal image of the "bobby". He can be nice, but if you're one of the bad guys, you don't want to mess with him. Even if he doesn't always do the right thing, he supports helping the city deal with crime. One of Damien's friends steals from a bar where Damien's girlfriend works. I think that's who she is. Eventually, Damien's girlfriend wants to break up. Three weeks before the title event, Damien has a pretty new female partner. Yes, that may mean what you think. The partner has a disabled father who was a victim of violence but wants to be as independent as possible. We get to see some of the cops' more interesting cases. One child won't go to school, putting his mother's benefits in jeopardy. The kid claims the elevator doesn't work, so he and the cops have to climb up seventeen stories. Another case involves a young soccer fan whose father is in Afghanistan. He is bullied for rooting for the wrong team. What happens with this kid may be related to the riot, but I'm not sure. A black man gets pulled over for a traffic offense. I think we see him again for some other reason. We also see a kid with a soccer ball in a parking garage. We keep going back to him, so what happens to him is not happening when the other events do. Two weeks before ... One week before ...

I don't know what happens at each of these times. I'm just saying we are told this. Not in a way that really makes clear what is happening when. One hour before ... I'm not at all certain what is going on or what the connection is to the title event. Between the accents and the curse words that get bleeped, it's difficult for me to follow anything. What I do know is there are tragedies connected with the title event. This movie has some pleasant moments, even a few laughs. But mostly it is depressing. And when there is violence, it is quite graphic. No guns. Just fists. The leading actors seem to do a good job and I'm sure the writing is well done. This just isn't the sort of thing I can enjoy.
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