Recent Reviews

Mean Girls

| July 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

mean-girlsMean Girls (2004) is the quintessential comedy for all women ages 14 and up. This movie takes you through the comedic complexities that entangle all high school age girls, which makes the movie easily relatable and hilarious for anyone who has ever been in high school. Don’t let the pink cover and title fool you, Mean Girls is full of catchy, quotable one-liners, complicated characters, and a fabulous cast of well-known comedians, musicians, and actors.

The movie centers around Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), who has just moved from home-schooling in Africa to attending a public high school in Illinois. Cady’s naivety and easy going temperament help her make new friends quickly at her new school, including Regina George (Rachel McAdams), the cruel and conniving leader of the elitist girls’ group, The Plastics. After being betrayed by Regina, Cady and her outcast friend, Janis (Lizzy Caplan), seek to sabotage Regina’s evil reign by stealing away her boyfriend, tricking her into eating weight gain bars, and manipulating the other Plastics into abandoning her. Once Regina finds out about this revenge plan, she releases the Plastics’ “burn book” to the school, a veritable Pandora’s Box of gossip, rumours, and accusations that launch all the girls in the school into hysteria. Cady goes from being one of the most popular girls in the school to realizing she has become as evil as Regina George. The resolution of the movie takes you through Cady’s redemption process as she tries to make everything right again by apologizing to her teachers, classmates, and even Regina George.

It’s not only the great plot line and witty writing that makes Mean Girls so watchable; the all-star cast of the movie is filled with Saturday Night Live greats such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Tim Meadows. These experienced comedic actors do a great job reflecting the absurd events, personalities, and complicated relationships of high school drama and turning it into jocular entertainment for the audience.

Mean Girls’ easy quotability and well-developed characters have understandably turned this movie into a cult classic for people of all ages and genders. If you haven’t seen Mean Girls yet, you absolutely must see it, or you’ll miss out on one of the funniest movies of this decade.

Singin’ in the Rain

| May 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

Singin' in the RainSingin’ in the Rain, which was released in 1952, is a fun romantic musical comedy that will have you singing along, rain or shine. Directed by and starring Gene Kelley, the film also features Debbie Reynolds. Gene Kelley, along with co-director Stanley Donen, choreographed the dance numbers.

Donald O’Connor won Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie at the Golden Globes, and another cast member, Jean Hagen, was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress for the Academy Awards. It wasn’t until more recent times, however, that the movie really began to earn recognition, and today it is considered to be one of the best musical films ever produced. It tops the American Film Institute’s list of top 100 musicals and comes in at number ten for movies overall. Being a romance as well as musical, it comes in at number sixteen in AFI’s 100 years of passion list.

Singin’ in the Rain takes place in the late 1920s, just as silent films were beginning to make the transformation to “talkies.” The movie’s main characters are caught up in this shift, and they struggle to adjust to the new world of sound. Technological problems create comedy, and relationship problems ensure romantic tension. Kelley plays Don Lockwood, who must feign, for the sake of his fans, a relationship with his onscreen lover Lina Lamont. Off screen, however, Don falls for chorus girl Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), and he is forced to keep the relationship a secret.

You’ll find yourself humming along to tunes such as “Fit As a Fiddle (And Ready for Love),” “Moses Supposes,” and “You Were Meant for Me.” Gene Kelley’s iconic dance scene is hard to forget as he splashes through puddles, twirls his umbrella, and sings the movie’s title song. Singin’ in the Rain is a movie to watch not only if you love musicals, but even if you don’t. If you think the genre will never appeal to you, give this picture a try. You may be surprised. Less artificial in feel than most movie musicals, Singin’ in the Rain is a wholesome, energetic, romantic motion picture that’s full of foot-tapping joy.

It Happened One Night

| May 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

It Happened One NightWe go back to the days when Hollywood was at its filmy best, when young girls clasped their hands in total ecstasy and young men pretended smooth indifference to a kiss. It Happened One Night, with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and directed by the famed Frank Capra, continues to prove that the legendary romantic comedy – for which Hollywood was once so famous – never really dies.

The story may be somewhat slight and almost silly, at least by more modern standards. Claudette is a runaway heiress and dashing Clark is a totally-in-charge, although out-of-work reporter. She secretly hops a bus to New York City to meet the man she loves, whom her father despises. The reporter is also on the bus and, of course, they begin to fall in love, although neither will admit it. They do have some fun adventures along the way, but Claudette arrives in New York still intending to carry out her wedding plans. However, at the actual wedding ceremony (not with the reporter), she realizes where her heart really is … and once again, true love is the winner.

This was the first film ever to win the five major Oscars – Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Writing. That wouldn’t happen again until 1975 with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

It doesn’t matter if you know where the story is going from the very beginning. It doesn’t matter if you already know what the ending will be. This is what Hollywood is all about. It’s make believe of the most wonderful kind. The scenery is terrific, the actors are the best, the directing is perfect, and love is in the air. This is the kind of movie that makes you smile and laugh and then go to the malt shop for a chocolate soda.

Love Actually

| May 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Love ActuallyLove Actually is a hit romantic-comedy film, released in 2003 and centered around eight different love stories. The film offers a charming and creative script to its audiences with different romantic scenarios that are all based in London, England.

Love Actually allows viewers to each relate to the characters in the film, as each person and situation varies and is vastly different. Some of the characters know that they are with the wrong person, while others struggle with chasing the one that got away. The beauty of romance is elegantly portrayed through the various scenes, as all of the characters are of different ages and each have their own background, but share the universal desire for love and romance.

With a British cast that includes Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Gregor Fisher, Colin Firth, Sienna Guillory, and Laura Linney, it makes for likeable characters who each are challenged by their own struggle. The actors capture the theme of the film and incorporate their own quirks and habits of each character for a diverse and stunning performance that makes it easy to fall in love with each individual. Hugh Grant allows his goofy side to be shown in the film, while Keira Knightley has an innocence that makes for a sentimental storyline.

The audience is able to enjoy beautiful settings that show the snow falling outside with scenes of ice skating and Christmas caroling throughout the streets of London. The film also offers an incredible soundtrack with holiday music that merges both love and the magic of the holiday season for a positive and uplifting tone.

Love Actually is a feel-good romantic-comedy that is enjoyed for its joyous storyline and a number of twists that keep viewers on their toes. Viewers can relate to the humor and humiliation that comes with falling in love, as well as the beauty of a happy ending. Some of the characters take risks to be profess their love, while many of them face the difficulty of a broken heart and insecurities. The characters seem to be pushed by fate with the coincidences and humorous situations that dictate the ending and the lives of each couple.

Whether in the mood for romance or wanting to celebrate the holiday season with a classic Christmas film, Love Actually captures the true beauty of falling in love and taking risks during the journey for a heart-warming film.

The Help

| May 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

The HelpBased on the best-selling novel of the same name, 2011′s The Help is a feel-good, thought-provoking film that benefits from an all-star cast and a message reflecting social justice and friendship. The ensemble drama takes place in Jackson, Mississippi stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer. The film was well-received upon its release and garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress for Davis, Best Supporting Actress for Chastain, and a win for Best Supporting Actress for Spencer.

Set in 1962, the story centers on a group of African-American maids in an affluent community who are disrespected and alienated by their white employers, even as they raise their children, cook their food, and clean their homes. Stone plays Skeeter, a college graduate who doesn’t quite fit in with her moneyed friends. When she learns that her mother sent away the woman who raised her, she embarks on a project to anonymously compile the stories of “the help.”

The Help largely succeeds on the strengths of the performances of the women in the film, all of whom shine in their individual roles. In addition, the movie has a unique blend of comedy, drama, pathos, and romance that is rarely seen in modern films, particularly with such a large cast of women. In such a male-dominated industry, it’s refreshing to see a team of powerful actresses tell a story that resonates with audiences of all ages, and that does not center solely on their experiences with the men in their lives.

While some may find that the African-American experience is told solely through the lens of a white protagonist, these stories are so often ignored in mainstream motion pictures that The Help serves as an important wake-up call for those who may not previously have been socially conscious enough to understand the inherent racism of those times.

Titanic

| May 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

TitanicIt was pitched to the studio as “Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic,” and it turned out to be one of the most successful films ever made. Produced and directed by James Cameron, “Titanic” also received more Academy Award nominations than any other film, in the end winning 11 of the statuettes at the 1998 Oscars. With a budget of around $200 million, “Titanic” would in its day be the most expensive motion picture ever produced, although it has since its release grossed more than 10 times that amount.

There had actually been several previous big and small-screen productions based on the 1912 sea disaster, three with the same name. As with those films, the 1997 movie interweaves true aspects of the disaster with fictional elements and characters. Among the principal characters in this film, only American socialite Molly Brown (Kathy Bates) was a real person. The new “Titanic” also includes the interesting element of combining two stories, one set in 1912 and the other in modern times, and it is in the modern setting that the audience is introduced to the centenarian character Rose (Gloria Stuart), who was one of the survivors of the disaster. Rose recounts the tragedy and, more importantly, her three-day romance with a young man by the name of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). This makes “Titanic” a romantic disaster tale, putting in the “Romeo and Juliet” genre.

Rose is accompanied on the voyage by her mother (Francis Fisher) and her fiance Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), who is a villain in every sense of the word. Constantly harassed by both her mother and her fiancee, Rose is saved from leaping overboard by Jack, who under the circumstances should probably have let her jump! The relationship between Jack and Rose soon blossoms, and is consummated in an automobile. Nothing lasts forever, however, and this relationship is ended by the iceberg that everybody knows sank the ship. Only Rose survives, although the two are reunited at the end of the film in a dream sequence that helps illustrate the underlying theme of the film, which is obsessive love.

None of the characters are particularly realistic, but all are realistically overwhelmed by the disaster that befalls the Titanic. The characters are both easy to love and to hate, but can one really believe that a woman who has past the century mark could so well remember a short romance that took place more than 80 years earlier? Not that this is particularly important because, remember, this is a Hollywood film. In Hollywood, the guy always gets the girl, even if it’s only in a dream!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

| May 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

Breakfast at Tiffany'sOne of the most famous romantic comedies in movie history, Breakfast at Tiffany’s stars Audrey Hepburn at the height of her beauty and George Peppard during his most smoldering days as a blue-eyed devil. But does it withstand the test of time?

The Setup

Holly Golightly (Heburn) is a beautiful socialite living in Manhattan without a care in the world. Her days are filled with clothes, crumpets and the occasional visit to Sing Sing prison, but what New Yorker can’t say the same, really?

Paul Varjak (Peppard) is a struggling writer who hasn’t been published in years. He moves into Holly’s building hoping for inspiration to strike, but instead, he finds himself falling for the beautiful and mysterious girl across the hall.

The Rivals

Both Holly and Paul are besieged by suitors who can’t take no for an answer. In Holly’s case, men fall like flies for her wide-brimmed hats and iconic sunglasses; for Paul, temptation comes in the form of an older woman known as 2E.

It should be noted here that Patricia Neal, or 2E, is the greatest threat to Holly and Paul’s relationship just by virtue of being Patricia Neal. On the other hand, Holly really does have a staggering number of men camping out in front of her building or on her fire escape:

- Claude Stroud
- Mel Blanc
- Buddy Ebsen
- Stanley Adams
- José Luis de Vilallonga

Ladies, this list should make it clear. No man can resist Ray-Bans.

The Complications

Despite love triangles so thick and fierce that they’re really more like love octagons, the most surprising plot twists in the movie are actually about Holly herself. Without giving too much away, it turns out that she isn’t the carefree floozy she’s painted herself to be, and Paul will need to work hard to convince her that their romance is worth pursuing. Can this failed writer craft the two of them a storybook ending? You’ll just have to watch the movie to find out!

The Final Verdict

Though it was made in 1961, way before the rise of social media and texting mishaps, Breakfast at Tiffany’s still rings true for any modern viewer looking for love. It’s a fun, engaging movie with outstanding performances by its leads, and if nothing else, you should watch it so you aren’t the only person in the world who hasn’t.

Roman Holiday

| May 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Roman Holiday“Roman Holiday” is a 1953 romantic comedy that stars the legendary actress Audrey Hepburn. Not only does the film possess Hepburn’s spirited star power, but it also features tall, dark and handsome actor Gregory Peck.

Hepburn plays young Ann, the princess of a nameless nation. As part of her royal duties, she embarks on a tour of various European cities. When she hits Rome, she starts feeling very tired of her rigid and repressive day-to-day existence. The doctor offers her a sedative that aims to relax her mind and get her to fall asleep. Ann decides instead, however, to flee her nation’s embassy and venture out into the Italian big city all by her lonesome. Ann doesn’t notify anyone of her escape.

The effects of the sedative kick in after Ann begins her Roman exploration. Because of this, she becomes drowsy and goes to sleep on a public bench. After this happens, Joe Bradley discovers her. Joe is an American reporter who lives in Rome writing for the “Daily American” newspaper. The American has no idea who this young lady is. Worrying about her well-being, he attempts to give her money so she can return home in a cab. Ann declines the offer. Joe, feeling as if he has no choice, then encourages her to stay at his apartment overnight to get some rest. She sleeps on his couch.

Joe is late to to work the next morning due to the events of the night before. When his boss inquires about the tardiness, he fibs, saying he went to Princess Ann’s Roman press conference. His boss catches him in the lie, however, telling him that the conference was cancelled due to Ann feeling ill. Joe then spots a photograph of the famed princess. At this moment, he has an epiphany: the mysterious girl sleeping in his home is actually royalty.

“Roman Holiday” is a fun-loving and whimsical comedy that explores themes of freedom, happiness and adventure — all with the picturesque backdrop of one of the world’s most beloved cities. Princess Ann starts her tour stressed out and bored by the predictability of her lifestyle. She ends her tour, however, having fallen head over heels in love with someone totally unexpected — a dashing American journalist. If you’re looking for an upbeat film that’s sure to put a smile on your face, check out this timeless classic. “Roman Holiday” was directed by William Wyler.

The Notebook

| May 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

The NotebookStarring Ryan Gosling (Noah) and Rachel McAdams (Allie) as a young couple who fall in love in the 1940s only to be forced apart by societal convention, The Notebook, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, is the standard to which all other romantic films are held.

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling truly sparkle in this movie. It is the film that made their careers, and for good reason. Their chemistry leaps off the screen and audiences cannot help but fall in love right along with them. If either of them had been cast opposite another up and coming actor, the film still would have been good, but it wouldn’t have been great. Their chemistry gives it that simple push to become something that everyone remembers.

McAdams especially shines in this role. She plays Allie as a down to earth good girl who just happens to be from a wealthy family, but lurking just below the surface of this cookie cutter society girl is something that the audience can’t quite put their finger on until she and Noah are driven apart. It’s at that point in the film that McAdams really lets loose and her acting chops show through all of the other trappings of storytelling and gorgeous scenery. Her performance works to elevate Gosling as well (who can be rather flat in scenes without her) and the duo make for a couple that isn’t just the focal point of a cheesy romantic tale, but is as real as you or I.

The story takes so many common romantic comedy storytelling points, some might call them clichés, and makes us remember why they work so well. It’s all there: the couple from opposite ends of the social spectrum, the interfering parents, the love triangle, an explosive and chemistry filled argument, a kiss in the rain. While audiences are used to seeing these play out on screen over and over, The Notebook brings everything together in a way that makes us feel like we’re watching it for the first time, every time. This is, of course, not exactly a comedy either, which helps take those tropes in new directions.

McAdams and Gosling will tug at your heartstrings in this lovely romance. A must view for all fans of the genre.

Gone with the Wind

| May 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gone with the Wind“Gone with the Wind” is a legendary film classic that stars Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland, among others. The romantic Civil War drama was released in 1939 and is one of the most celebrated movies of all time.

The film centers around Scarlett, a stunningly beautiful yet cunning dark-haired woman. She resides in Georgia at the fictional “Tara” plantation. She lives with her two sisters and parents. Scarlett discovers one day that the man she loves, Ashley, is engaged to his cousin. During the engagement party for the couple at Twelve Oaks, Scarlett senses the romantic interest of dashing Rhett Butler. Butler was rejected by his family. Rhett attracts negative attention at the party when he participates in a heated debate regarding the war.

During the party, Scarlett tells Ashley her true feelings for him. He denies her, however, by telling her that he’s a better match with his fiancée Melanie. Unbeknownst to Scarlett, Rhett hears the exchange. He tells her that later. Scarlett looks out from the window and spots Ashley and Melanie kissing. Afterward, Melanie’s meek younger sibling Charles proposes to Scarlett. Scarlett has no feelings for Charles, but opts to say yes anyway. The pair marries prior to Charles going away for the war. Charles falls ill due to measles and pneumonia while away with the Confederate Army. He promptly passes away. Scarlett, with the urging of her concerned mother, goes to Atlanta to improve her mood. She then visits a charity event in the city. At the event, she spots Rhett. Rhett is presently a blockade runner. The event features a fundraiser for the Confederate War. The male guests are encouraged to place bids to dance with the ladies. Rhett places a massive bid on Scarlett. She then dances with him. As she does so, he tells her that his plan is to land her. She tells him, however, that that simply isn’t in the cards.

“Gone with the Wind” is a film about courage, passion and unrequited love — all in the midst of extremely trying situations. Shortages are a big problem in Atlanta as the Civil War goes on. Food and attire both become hard to acquire. If you’re looking for an epic drama that will fill your heart with intensity, then “Gone with the Wind” is an ideal way to spend a few hours. The film was directed by the team of Victor Fleming, George Cukor and Sam Wood.