Friday, March 30, 2012


'GOON' (R) (3 1/2 STARS)

Written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg based on the book
"The True Story of an Unlikely Journey Into Minor League Hockey"
Directed by Michael Dowse
Actors: Sean William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy, Marc-Andre Grondin

I have been waiting for the kind of sports movie "Goon" is for such a long time. There have been weak attempts at the vulgar, sports comedy like "Semi-Pro" and the awful "Bad News Bears" remake. "Goon" is the funniest and best sports comedy since "White Men Can't Jump" in 1992. "Goon" is based on a true story of Hockey enforcer Doug Glatt who became an unlikely star in minor league hockey. If you loved the Hockey comedy classic "Slapshot" you will have a deep admiration for "Goon".

I laughed out loud a lot during "Goon" and it has a nicely understated and sweet, charming performance by Sean William Scott as Doug. The jokes are very vulgar and there is tons of nasty profanity and I loved it for I am sick of the safe PG-13 sports fluff lately. The movie is very violent and crude but you will fall in love with Doug and there is a sweet love story that is well written and just right as a bonus.

Doug Glatt was a former security guy and Bouncer who one day goes to a minor league hockey game with his friend Pat. At the game Doug gets into a fight with one of the hockey players in the stands. Doug knocks the player out with one punch and splits his helmet and that impresses one of the coaches. Doug can't even skate but that doesn't matter to the Coach who will use him as just muscle. Doug is talented with his fists but he is kind of dumb. The Coach will send Doug to his brother who is the coach of a minor league team in Canada.

Doug will get into a lot of nasty, bloody fights and he becomes great at what he is being used for. There is a great running joke as Doug's new coach, wonderfully played by veteran character actor Kim Coates, tells Doug to just do what he is told to do which is get into fights and distract the other team. I thought the fights in "Slapshot" were bloody and violent but not compared to the ones in "Goon". The movie is great because the fights depicted here look real and the movie doesn't hold back. The fights are so outrageous you will find yourself laughing at them. There is also some classic trash talk, very funny one liners that are delightfully vulgar and some very funny supporting teammates.

The movie is definitely inspired by "Slapshot" but the story is true and original in where it is heading to. There are many subplots going on here that I loved and that I found intriguing. One plot has Doug heading towards a showdown with a legendary and brutal enforcer named Ross Rhea, beautifully played by Liev Schreiber, who is about to retire and is on his last run. The second one deals with Doug's relationship with a once promising Patrick Kane type star who has lost his way. The third is my favorite and it deals with a sweet love story between Doug and Eva who sleeps around and loves hockey players. I love how Eva reluctantly falls in love with Doug who may seem dumb and violent on the outside but is sweet and caring on the inside.

So you have a sports movie that is about hockey but that non hockey fans might like. You have a vulgar but hugely funny sports movie that men will eat up but women will love also. The movie has well written characters, great acting and a huge charm along with the outlandish, thrilling and funny fights. The movie has that wonderful, gritty, independent, low budget look of great character based sports movies of the 70's that I love, no fake Hollywood gloss. I have always loved Sean William Scott and here he proves to me that he has star quality and can act.

I think everyone will fall in love with the story and the characters in this movie. Also hockey fans and movie goers who love hockey and sports comedies will have such a great time at this movie and will appreciate it. This reminds me of another low budget charmer about boxing called "The Hammer" with Adam Carolla. Both of these movies would make a great double feature for sports enthusiasts, lovers of sports comedies and those that admire, sweet, low key love stories. "Goon" has balls, great big laughs and a lot of charm. I love movies that come out of left field and knock us silly like Doug does to his opponents and give us a great time. I was surprised to find out that "Goon" is my favorite movie of 2012 so far.

P.S. I loved the way "Goon" uses classical music to enhance some of the story. It reminds me of how classical music was used so perfectly in my favorite baseball movie of all time, the original "Bad News Bears".



Marc Klein and Jason Keller based on stories by the Brothers Grimm
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Actors: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer,Nathan Lane, Sean Bean

'Mirror, Mirror' looks glorious, beautiful and enchanting but the movie itself is not enchanting or charming, just stale and dull. I just have to mention "The Princess Bride" and I rest my case. This is a "Bride" wannabe with jokes that are corny and dated. The attempts at slapstick are lame, clumsy and geared towards five years and younger. If the movie didn't look so great this would be one of the worst movies of the year. There is a trend of movies that look glorious but whose stories fail them because of weak writing and "Mirror" is one of them.

Julia Roberts is the evil Queen and she has fun with the role but I am afraid she comes off as a second rate vaudeville comedianne. That would be great if this movie came out in the 50's but now it seems out of place. There are movies like "Despicable Me" and "The Lorax" that do a much better job with the pop culture references. "Mirror,Mirror" looks like director Tarsem concentrated too much on visuals and didn't realize his story sucked.

The movie is based on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and it follows it closely and doesn't offer anything new or fresh. Snow White is played by Lily Collins and after watching Jennifer Lawrence in "Hunger Games" Collins tries to play a strong female heroine but falls on her face. Collins is okay but she comes off stiff most of the time and becomes a dull character. It doesn't help that the Prince looks like he is 29 and Snow looks like she is 16, pretty uncomfortable. Armie Hammer is fine as the Prince but he gets kicked, slapped around a lot and made the butt of lame jokes that are done better in "Jackass".

You know you are in trouble when the great, funny and energetic Nathan Lane comes off as dull and unfunny. This movie just goes through the paces and then ends. It is a highly forgettable movie and I think only five years and younger will find it interesting and cute. I guess some kids and families will like it but is this the kind of fluffy, dumb stuff that should be force fed on kids? There is imagination in the look of the movie but in the writing and acting it is simple and very boring. It is better to plop the kids down at home and pop in "The Princess Bride" which this movie resembles but in no way reaches the fun of that movie.

I might be questioned as to why I would unfairly compare this movie to "Princess Bride", a classic? Well there was a recent fairy tale adaptation "Alice in Wonderland" that was just good but is "The Wizard of Oz" compared to "Mirror". The jokes fall flat, the actors look bored except for Roberts and the story would have been stale back in the 50's. Director Tarsem Singh is a great visual stylist but he has not even come close to the greatness he showed in his first movie, the awesome serial killer movie "The Cell". He has the chops but he picks weak and unchallenging stories. "Mirror,Mirror" looks beautiful so kids will be happily distracted but older kids and adults will want to run screaming from the theatre. The dwarfs were kind of funny though.

For better movies than "Mirror,Mirror" check out "The Princess Bride", "Despicable Me" and "Alice in Wonderland" and speaking of Tarsem, check out "The Cell" which is pretty original and haunting. Also watching the trailer for the other Snow White movie "Snow White and the Huntsman" I am convinced it has to be way cooler and better than "Mirror".

Friday, March 23, 2012



Written by Gary Ross, Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins based on her novel
Directed by Gary Ross
Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci

"Hunger Games" is based on a very popular series of teenage books with a young, admirable female hero. The jam packed audience I saw it with seemed to really like it and so did I. I found it to be surprisingly deep and smartly written also. I love the topicality of the story and I admire the strength of the hero Katniss Everdeen. This should be an inspiring hero for young women and now I know why the books are popular. Add to that another layered, amazing and grounded performance by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. This actress is impressing me with her two amazing performances in this and "Winter's Bone".

"Hunger Games" takes us to a futuristic World that is pretty unique to me because of the costumes and look of the movie. The plot actually has been done before in movies but "Hunger Games" adds a fresh satiric spin and a good sense of humor. In this futuristic World there has been an uprising from society and it's citizens. For punishment one young man and woman from each district will be pulled from some sort of lotery to have a fight to the death on television. That is not all there is because we also get a satire on reality televison shows, some political humor and a female hero who we can look up to.

You would think "Hunger Games" would be sadistic and violent due to it's subject matter but it is done just right for it's target audience, there were kids that were grade school age in the theatre. It is done just right and there are some tasteful killings and some great action scenes. The movie could also be grim but I was happily surprised about the humor sprinkled in this movie and it was smart and subtle, not outlandish. There are some great supporting characters acted by a great cast and there are some actors here that are really funny. My favorite was Haymitch played perfectly by Woody Harrelson. Haymitch is funny and just the right amount of flamboyant and I think Woody is such an important treasure in movies. Also funny and wonderful is Elizabeth Banks as Effie and Stanley Tucci as the host of the show.

I loved Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Lawrence is captivating here and such a smart actress. It is a careful performance and Katniss becomes a compelling hero thanks to Lawrence. Witness her scene where her younger sister is picked in the lottery and her quick and strong reaction to it and you will see what I mean. I liked her as a strong female chacacter created by Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross (Pleasantville) is the perfect director to film this movie with his causal touch. I also liked the look of the movie, it's futuristic dimness but beauty thanks to Clint Eastwood's veteran cinematographer Tom Stern. "Hunger Games" is smart and it doesn't pander down to it's teenage audience. It is a compelling adventure and Katniss is an inspiring heroine.

Now I couldn't stop thinking about the "Twilight" movies when watching "Hunger Games". They both have a female centered lead character and the same target sudience. Oh let me count the ways of how "Hunger Games" is ten times smarter, more thrilling and compelling. First of all Katniss is way more intriguing and smarter than Bella and no it's not because Kristen Stewart is a bad actress, witness her great acting in "Into the Wild" and "Adventureland". Katniss is a more deeply written character with layers and Bella is a simpleton. Also Katniss has a love interest in Peeta who is her district mate. Josh Hutcherson ("The Kids Are All Right") plays Peeta and Hutcherson is ten times a better actor than the brooding Robert Pattinson and the wooden Taylor Lautner.

"Hunger Games" is also a much more assured film in directing, action and suspense. I also love how topical it is for it's uprising plot mirrors today's "Occupy Wall Street" movement very closely. I think the books were written before the Wall Street movement and if they were that makes the story's writing even more brilliant, I don't know. I do know that I was pleasantly surprised by how deep and funny and smartly satiric this movie was. I liked all the characters and in Katniss I found a hero that kicked butt and was very well acted by Jennifer Lawrence one of our very best young actresses.

P.S. I really love the score of this movie in the classical pieces and the soothing country ballad at the end credits by "The Civil Wars".


'JOHN CARTER' (PG-13) (rental)

Written by Andrew Stanton and Mark Andrews based on the story "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Actors: Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe, Lynn Collins, Thomas Haden Church, Samantha Morton, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West

"John Carter" has that rough distinction of being the big Hollywood Blockbuster that tanked at the box office but isn't really that bad. The movie will go down as a bad movie because it failed but I actually like a lot of it. Is it totally solid? No, there are too many slow spots and if the movie had to stop again to explain what was going on in the plot I was going to lose it. What I liked about it was that there were some really cool visual effects, a very beautiful woman with a warrior's body and a great voice job by Willem Dafoe.

"John Carter" is based on stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs dealing with a Civil War soldier named John Carter who gets transported to Mars. He gets involved in a Civil War on Mars and helps the race of aliens called Tharks. Yes the Tharks look like a bunch of Jar Jar Binks but I liked their look. I also loved the main Thark named Tars who is a fun and a great character due to the expert voice work by Willem Dafoe. Taylor Kitsch plays John and I picked Taylor for stardom (who wouldn't) and I am always right on this count. I hope I am with Kitsch who is solid here but not amazing and that is due to John Carter being the dullest character in the story, sorry to say.

That is okay because I love Tars and I also like the love interest of John's named Dejah. Dejah has beautiful, piercing eyes and a very solid, strong, beautiful body. I found the love story between John and Dejah to be sweet, fun and surprisingly good. I do like a lot of the action in this movie and the visuals and I like the movie's surprising sense of humor. The movie had me going in spots but I had a few problems that kept me from fully endorsing this movie.

The movie is woefully too long, maybe 20 minutes too long and I know where you can cut some of the excess off. The movie has a major problem of stopping for 5 minute chunks of time to explain the plot and the plot twists. This was the problem with my least favorite movie of all time 1984's "Dune". The movie is too talky when it should be moving. I like movies that take their time telling the story and building characters but this movie doesn't need it. I did not think John Carter was one of the most engaging of heroes and the one thing the movie could have explained was who was who when it came to the Tarks.

"John Carter" has moments of real fun like when John learns he has powers to jump great leaps and bounds. The best scene in the movie is when he first takes steps on Mars and struggles hilariously. I do think the movie is fun for kids and they will be awed by the look of the movie but they will want to go out to take breaks from time to time. The movie just needed to be tighter and less talky. That being said the movie is fun most of the time and it is way better than all the bad "Mummy" movies, "Dune" and "The Green Lantern". "John Carter" is best to see at home on a big HDTV screen where you can stop the movie and watch it over a few nights, one full sitting can get boring at times.

Friday, March 16, 2012



Written by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill based on television series.
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Actors: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Nick Offerman, Brie Larson, Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper

Now this is how you remake a television series, with smarts, a self deprecating sense of humor and a fast introduction. Yes the movie is dumb but it is dumb in a smart way like all the best comedies like this are. I also like that there is very little exposition in the beginning. The movie very quickly introduces us to the main characters and we know them well after only 5 minutes. This is a fast screwball comedy that I laughed at a lot and smiled throughout every minute. This is a classic dumb comedy in the great tradition of under rated comedy classics like "Bachelor Party" and "Up the Creek".

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play new police recruits who went to high school together. Hill plays Schmidt who was a nerd in school and Tatum plays Jenko who was a popular jock. They strike up a great comraderie and unlikely friendship. As they become new police recruits we find out obviously that Schmidt has smarts and Jenko has the brawn and strength. They are sent on a case by their new boss, played hilariously by Ice Cube, to go undercover as high school students to crack a drug case. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum have such great chemistry together and are delightful so much so I hope they make a sequel.

I did not expect this to be a good movie and I love when I am wrong. The movie starts with a very funny chase scene and drug bust. Then we meet their Seargant and Ice Cube is great as their boss in a constant slow burn making fun of his usual growl and sneer in other movies. Then the boys go to school and hilariously find out the cool kids are different today from their day at school. This is a shock to Jenko who was popular and I love when Jenko becomes friends with the geeks and Schmidt becomes cool. There is some wonderful writing as we learn about all the kids in this school and how the heroes adapt to them as people and not the usual stereotypes. There is also a love interest for Schmidt played sweetly by Brie Larson.

The movie has some dumb moments for sure that miss but the writing is mostly spot on. The movie is fast and has few slow or dull moments and we get characters deeply written, not as one note jokes. I also did not expect there to be a good plot, just a lot of lame, vulgar jokes. We get funny situations out of characters but we do also get some great satire on cop movie cliches. This is the type of movie that makes a bad movie like "Bad Boys" with Will Smith look pathetic. I am also happy to report that the under rated Channing Tatum is back and proves he can do comedy very well and he matches Hill who is very good here as always. This is the energetic action movie that brings Tatum back from his stupor in "The Vow".

There is also great comic support by future comedy stars in Ellie Kemper (The Office) and Rob Riggle. You also have one of the best cameos I have ever seen in a comedy like this. I was smiling and my heart jumped when this cameo came up and it is a very funny cameo. "21 Jump Street" is loose, smart, has great comedic action scenes and a great duo in Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. I laughed a lot and always smiled and I was surprised how smart this so called dumb comedy was.



Written by Andrew Steele
Directed by Matt Piedmont
Actors: Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez, Pedro Armendariz Jr.

I have to give Will Ferrell major points for being experimental and going outside the box. There is no way "Casa De Mi Padre' will make money at the box office because it is a risky project that could have gone to HBO. Other comedic actors, namely Adam Sandler, make the same old insulting crap but Will Ferrell has done well with quirky satiric send ups and he isn't afraid to experiment with movies that are not sure fire hits. His "Anchorman" is one of my favorite comedies of the past decade. The problem with "Casa De Mi Padre" is that it is unique and brave but crippled by dull stretches.

"Casa De Mi Padre" is a send up of those "Telenovelas" on Spanish television and specifically the horse operas. The movie is totally spoken in Spanish and in subtitles and now you see one of the reasons this is a brave and risky attempt. Moviegoers looking for big Will Ferrell type laughs won't want to see a movie with subtitles. The younger audience has never seen one of these "telenovelas" and won't get the joke. The movie has a lot of sly jokes that you won't get if you don't know the source material. If you do know it well the movie has moments that are very smart and funny that pop out but too many stretches where I was bored.

The movie tells the story of Armando who is played by Ferrell. Armando is caught between a drug war between his brother Raul and another Drug Lord Onza. The drug dealers are played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna and it is great to see both of them cast together again. They have not done anything together since "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and I like seeing them together again and they are both good and funny. So is Will Ferrell and I love a few moments including a break in the film where real animals are replaced by stuffed ones in an attack scene. I like Ferrell's singing of a song
in Spanish fluently also. Obviously Will Ferrell was a better Spanish student than I was.

I love the perfect recreation of the look of these cheaply made shows and all the actors are up for the spirit of the movie. There is just too many jokes that miss amidst the few bright moments. Since this movie spoofs "Telenovelas" maybe this should have gone straight to HBO where Ferrell produces "Eastbound and Down". This is good to watch at home but to see it in a theatre not so much. One or two people walked out of my screening and there were only 8 of us. I am happy to say I think people walked out not because it is a bad movie, which it isn't, but because they didn't get it.

P.S. If you love Will Ferrell and will find this dissapointing you have to check out "Anchorman" again which is his best in the last decade and also pretty funny is "The Other Guys" with Mark Wahlberg.

Thursday, March 15, 2012



Written by Laura Lau
Directed by Laura Lau and Chris Kentis
Actors: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens

Wow, what a shame that the writers of "Silent House" took such a promising start and destroyed it all with a lame and unoriginal ending. The first hour and 15 minutes has a well set atmosphere, suspense and a creeping terror. Then the movie tries to explain it all in the end and the movie falls on it's face. The movie should have quit and not explained the plot and just ended on a more effective and creepy note. I groaned when I found out the big twist at the center of the movie. It has been done before and that would be okay if a half dozen other movies hadn't executed it better. If you want to see a good movie with the same feel as this I have some suggestions at the end of this review.

"Silent House" has Elizabeth Olsen coming off her bravura debut performance in "Martha Marcy May Marlene". She is also very good here even though she has that same deer caught in the headlights look that other horror movie heroines have had. She just has to scream a lot and look terrified and she gets to stretch a little during the lame ending. She plays a young woman whose father is rehabbing an old house in the woods. The father is then knocked out and our heroine is stalked by something. When in the end the movie explains what it is that was after her you will roll your eyes and recognize the ending from other horror movies. I don't want to give away the ending but trust me it is a groaner and it is cheap.

It is a shame because the movie had me going through two thirds of it. The movie was made by the bright duo that gave us the cool chiller "Open Water" back in 2003. That was a neat thriller about a man and woman stuck in the middle of an Ocean as sharks are circling around them. "Silent House" gets half of that movie's spirit and chills right and "Open Water" had a much better ending. It didn't have a final resolution that spelled it out for you as "Silent House" does. I loved the start of this movie and I was a little scared at times. The first half of this movie is not cheap or ugly but it is effective. It is the ending that spells everything out and it is cheap and ugly.

All good horror movies should have a great ending that knocks you over and makes you walk out of the theatre stunned. "Silent House" has one of the worst endings to a horror movie I have seen. That is a shame because I like Elizabeth Olsen a lot and the creators of this movie are talented based on "Open Water. If you want to see a much better movie than this that has the same plot line check out the under rated and very scary and creepy 2008 movie "The Strangers" which is note for note in the same style as "Silent House" and ten times better. Also there is my favorite horror movie in decades "The House of the Devil", a perfect recreation of a 70's "slasher" movie. I also thought about a movie with the same ending as House that is terrible but that was better and it has a bad reputation. That would be 1981's "Happy Birthday To Me" with Melissa Gilbert that is sick and ugly but a guilty pleasure and a horror movie that even blows away "Silent House" which turns out to be a pretender.

P.S. So skip "Silent House" and check out great horror movies like "Open Water", "The House of the Devil", "The Innkeepers" (from the same director of "House of the Devil"), "The Strangers" and even the horrible but effective "Happy Birthday To Me".

Friday, March 2, 2012

'Project X'


Written by Matt Drake and Michael bacall
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Actors: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Miles Teller

A movie like "Project X" is geared towards a younger crowd so if you are an adult you might not get what it's all about. It is a movie that is rauchy, vulgar and full of nudity. It won't be offensive though, surprisingly so, unless you are offended by somewhat cruel jokes on dogs or little people. It seems like most of this country is timid about female nudity so if you are one of those people it might offend you. I didn't feel that any of the jokes were that mean spirited and while it is not as funny as "Superbad" it has enough laughs for me to recommend it.

"Project X" is centered on Thomas who is having a birthday and as soon as Thomas's parents leave Thomas's buddy Costa will try to throw Thomas a wild birthday party. Costa is that sweater vest wearing, obnoxious jerk who tries to act black. There is also a second friend JB who is that shy, overweight kid with glasses that wants to get lucky at the party. Costa spreads the word and the party which was supposed to be just 50 people will turn into a momentous bash that might grow to thousands. All these characters we have seen before but what matters is if this movie is funny and bold. I don't think it is as raunchy as the "Hangover" movies but there are some out there jokes.

The movie takes place in California and there will be many model type women who will take their tops off and jump in the pool. That is the result of a very funny joke when Costa puts up a sign that says "Naked Women Only" in the pool. Costa and others are surprised that the sign actually works. I will not spoil the surprises in this comedy but there will be major destruction by the end and there will be a lot of cruel jokes. The movie wisely has a little heart to it and Thomas is a likable kid. The women are beautiful and there will be that popular girl that Thomas's friends will try to hook him up with. There is also a sweet love interest for Thomas and she is Alexis and I liked her also.

So you will like these kids and you will laugh a lot I think because there is some good stuff here. It was actually better than I thought it would be plus it has one of the hottest and sexiest ways you will see anyone take a tequila shot. I also loved what happens when a neighbor comes over to complain about the noise. I even loved what they do to the family dog and in the end the father's reaction to the aftermath of the party is funny, different and unexpected. My favorite part of the movie was the security detail that Costa uses for the party and that running joke is hilarious. So what you have with "Project X" is raunch, some of it embarrasing, some good jokes, hot women and the wildest party you will encounter in a while.

P.S. When it comes down to the teenagers throw or go to a party genre "Project X" is successful but "Superbad" is still the King!

'Dr. Seuss' The Lorax'


Written by Ken Daurio based on the book by Dr. Seuss
Directed by Chris Renaud
Voice Actors: Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Danny Devito, Ed Helms, Betty White, Rob Riggle

Oh the colors we will see when a movie based on Dr. Seuss' book there will be! Finally someone takes a Dr. Seuss book and simply makes a relaxing, sunny and fun animated movie that doesn't throw non stop action at you. This is the best adaptation of a Seuss book on the big screen. It isn't a world beater but it takes it's time and I haven't seen an animated movie with this much eye popping color and warmth forever. You usually have to get this much visual splendor in live action movies like "Hugo" and "Detective Dee". There is also an easy going, fun, sweet, charming story going on here with a nice little message.

Zac Effron is Ted and Taylor Swift is Audrey and Danny Devito is The Lorax and they are all very good here. Ted has a crush on Audrey and Audrey is all sunshine with her beautiful, glowing red hair which is one of the images that warmed me up in this movie. Dr. Seuss's books are all sunny and catchy but very short. This movie does what the other adaptations couldn't. Keep it simple and sweet because movies like Jim Carrey's Grinch remake did it wrong for an example. That movie was over crowded and noisy and very obnoxious while "The Lorax" is quiet and soothing. There is also a nice message about the enviornment and how important trees are to our daily lives. The movie thankfully doesn't hit us over the head with the message either or preach to us.

I love how this movie works and I love the Lorax character and Danny Devito is pitch perfect. There are also some cute little bears in the movie and when they showed up I was weary. I didn't want an Ewoks flashback and the bears here are hilarious! I also like the chorus of other little animals like the little fishies that remind me of the minions in "Despicable Me". Both of those movies have the same director, Chris Renaud, and I am liking Renaud's style. There are also some catchy and decent tunes in this movie capping it off with a beautiful song at the end that recites the story's message.

This is an animated movie that adults will not mind taking their kids to and watching. I liked it and I am getting jaded by animated movies lately and "The Lorax" is better than both "Kung Fu Panda" movies. I just like that this movie doesn't try too hard and respects Dr. Seuss' story unlike the Grinch remake. It is sunny, delightful and fun, the voice work is great including natural work from Ed Helms and Betty White. I also love Rob Riggle as the bad guy who is funny and just right. The colors of this movie are beautiful and I think 2D would be a better bet than 3D. "The Lorax" works because it doesn't have too many dumb pop culture jokes and it just charms us with it's story and visuals.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

'Thin Ice'

'Thin Ice' (R) (rental)

Written by Jill and Karen Sprecher
Directed by Jill Sprecher
Actors: Greg Kinnear, Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin, Lea Thompson, Bob Balaban

Some movies probably look really good after they are made but then are ruined in the editing room. After seeing the new twisty crime thriller "Thin Ice" I read that the film's makers had their movie wrestled away from them by the studios and re-edited by them. I could feel something was wrong here, it is a fun, quiet and well acted movie but it feels like a lot was cut from it and I have heard it was about 20 minutes. The movie sets up a great wintry location, builds some good and quirky characters and starts flowing. Half way through though it just skips ahead to the ending like something was missing to build suspense into the climax. The movie just ends explaining all it's twists in a summary.

The movie is not worth your time on the big screen but the acting is really good and the story is fun sometimes. I really can't explain the plot because I don't want to give away any surprises. Let's just say that the under rated Greg Kinnear plays an insurance agent who gets involved with a priceless violin and an insurance scam. There is also a security systems installer played by the wonderful Billy Crudup and both men become unlikely partners. Greg Kinnear is very likable even when playing an arrogant and not too bright man. I also love Billy Crudup who we should see more of and Billy is very funny in a subtle way. The movie is a breezy and enjoyable entertainment but I kept thinking of "Fargo" which this is like and "Thin Ice" you are no "Fargo".

P.S. The writers and directors are sisters and obviously women. I was thinking about my 2011 trend of female directors and actors making a comeback and a providing a new voice and emerging in Hollywood, especially female directors. How sad is it that the studio took the Sprecher sister's film away from them and re-edited it and why am I thinking sexist Hollywood is at it again. Also a movie better than "Thin Ice" is the perfect and wonderful Coen Brothers classic "Fargo".