Book Review: Heartland

 

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Author: Cathryn Hein

333 pages

Published by: Penguin Books Australia – Thank you to the publishers for my copy of this book

Available: Now

 

‘  When Callie Reynolds arrives at Glenmore, the property she’s recently inherited, the last thing she wants is to be saddled with a warty horse, an injured neighbour and a mad goose. Haunted by her sister’s death and her fractured family, all she wants is freedom.

But Callie hasn’t counted on falling for Matt Hawkins, an ex-soldier determined to fulfil his own dream of land and family. Nor could she predict the way the land, animals and people of Glenmore will capture her heart.

Callie is faced with impossible choices. But she must find the courage to decide where her future lies, even if it costs her everything she holds dear ‘

 

Callie Reynolds is running. Devastated and guilt ridden over the loss of her beloved older sister Hope, Callie abandons her shattered family to hide among strangers. And where better than a small coastal town in Queensland’s glorious Whitsunday region with its largely transient population of holidaymakers and foreign backpackers.

But a letter arrives advising Callie that not only has she lost her grandmother…… but her paternal family’s property of Glenmore is now hers. She has wonderful childhood memories of Glenmore and the nearby town of Dargate, where she and her sister escaped their big city hometown of Melbourne and indulged all manner of childhood passions such as fishing, horse riding and long, lazy days being spoiled by adoring grandparents.

A few days drive later Callie arrives at the property, intent on cleaning the place up and putting it on the market. Then it’s back to Airlie Beach to settle back into her life of empty anonymity.

But a grumpy old man, a handsome young ex-soldier, a warty horse, a goose and a broken young girl have other ideas.

Callie was never going to make a quick escape from Glenmore….. and aren’t we glad she didn’t. This book is why I miss reading. It’s why I should make time for my books once again. It’s why I am now going to return to being one of those people who is always reading a book.

The author has perfectly captured that feeling of a modern rural town. Small enough to be a small town but within driving distance of a major city. Some locals lament the ever closer inching of the suburban sprawl with its influx of hobby farmers and property developers. In fact, the sale of Glenmore may well end in its demise as a single property and see it sub-divided and sold off as lots. This thought weighs heavily on Callie’s mind.

But it is her burgeoning relationship with the hunky ex-soldier neighbour, Matt Hawkins, that tests Callie’s resolve to leave. The pair, once childhood friends, get off to a rocky start but with Callie simply being in need of the help of  ‘an attractive, capable man’, what else can a girl do but get caught up in the moment.

The flirting that goes on between Callie and Matt is a delight to read. I found myself smiling and resisting the urge to flip through the pages to see how it all ends as this pair did that most delicious of emotional dances….falling in love. Matt falls hard and fast and has no problem wearing his heart on his sleeve. Callie is more reticent, reminding Matt that she will be leaving Glenmore once she sorts everything out.

The language and emotion are real and can be seen and overheard in any city, town, pub, bus, workplace …… basically anywhere two people can meet and flirt and potentially fall in love. There is a smattering of swearing which is just so natural and just so perfectly right that I mentally high-fived the author for allowing her instincts to flow into her words.

This is a love story for the modern woman. It is natural, wonderful and engaging. Callie is neither a victim nor a hero…..just an ordinary girl who has to deal with difficult issues and goes about it the best way she knows how. She has hardened her heart to protect herself and it is lovely to watch her opening up to her new friends. Her patience with a local girl, distraught and terrified of her own horse after a terrible accident, is the key to Callie’s character and perhaps her salvation.

So does Callie stay with the attractive capable man? Does she give in to those deeply buried desires for home and hearth? Or does she run back to her fun and happy yet emotionally devoid life in Queensland?

I thoroughly recommend you buy the book and find out…..

Cathryn, who once called Newcastle home, has graciously agreed to an interview in the very near future. Keep an eye out for it on Social/Life Magazine

Please visit the author, Cathryn on her website

Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby (3D)

 

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Director : Baz Luhrmann

Starring : Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Callan McAuliffe, Elizabeth Debicki, Gemma Ward, Jason Clarke

Running Time : 142 minutes

Release Date : In cinemas now

 

I wish to preface my review by stating that I am a Baz Luhrmann fan. And I am not ashamed!

Now …..

The Great Gatsby is based on the 1925 F Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name. It is a tale of love, self-indulgence, mystery, illusion, love, grandeur, lies, deceit, love, love and love. Yes, yes I know there is so much more to this story but seriously, is that what we are looking for in this latest movie adaptation? And a Baz film to boot? I didn’t think so…. 😉

 

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The story’s narrator Carraway (Maguire) is a brash, young up and coming Wall Street wheeler-dealer, trying to cash in on the seemingly endless flow of money during the early 1920’s. He rents a modest house on Long Island, right next door to the movie’s title character, Gatsby (DiCaprio). His girlishly adorable cousin Daisy (Mulligan) lives, literally, across the bay with her husband Tom (Edgerton). Gatsby and Daisy have a history, Tom has an agenda of his own and carraway is along for the ride.

This movie is unmistakably a Baz Luhrmann movie. It is lush and colourful and bright and brash and energetic and a visual feast. The opening scenes are vibrant and joyous and fun, truly capturing one of the most exciting and socially complex periods in modern history. Set on the eve of the stock market crash of 1929 and thus, The Great Depression, it captures the absolute decadence brought about by a relaxing of social conventions, prohibition and the rise of the nouveau riche

 

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The glorious party scenes are exactly what you would expect from this movie….. full of people, full of energy and full of colour. Highly charged, sparkly, high kicking, flappers flapping *sighs* It’s just all so……..so ……. BAZ!!!

All those zooming in-flight shots familiar from Moulin Rouge swirl and swoop and zoom throughout this movie when it shows us New York City and the desolate wasteland that separates it from Long Island. Hmmmmm that’s some imagery huh? Yep. But I’m not going all deep here…..I will leave that to those who are thusly inspired to seek deeper meanings in colour draining cinematography

 

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I knew that Jay Z was heavily involved in this production and was expecting to be overpowered but was pleasantly surprised by how well it all worked. I have fleeting memories of other music in there too but cannot pin point anything to mention. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Oh well, it is what it is …..

This movie is unmistakably a Baz Luhrmann movie. It is unnecessarily long and a bit OCD in some areas.

Baz…. editing is your friend. Endless streams of pointless dialogue gets a bit dull. Luckily my friend choose these moments to tear open a box of maltesers (YUMM) and the women behind me started to gossip loudly enough about a ‘friend’ (I do love me some bitchy bitch bitch moments shhhhhh ). I was distracted just long enough ….

Oh and don’t get me started on Gatsby overuse of the phrase Old Sport grrrrrrrr

 

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This movie was never going to be a true retelling of the classic novel, no matter how much anyone wanted it to be. The Great Gatsby does a marvellous job of being a Baz Luhrmann movie so you will either love it or hate it. And judging by snippets of what I have seen, the split on this flick is truly 50/50.

So what did I think? I loved it. I went into the cinema knowing it was getting seriously mixed reviews and so held no true expectations either way. But I loved it ….. in all its 142 which should have been 102 minutes glory.

Oh and so why haven’t I talked more about the story and the other characters? Because that would be giving the game away entirely…. and that’s just the way this review evolved.

 

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Please visit my friend Peter at Hush Hush Biz for his review of this movie. We are on completely different wavelengths when it comes to this one and I loved what he had to say…….even if he is wrong. Ha ha ha just kidding Peter 😉  I deliberately didn’t read his review before I wrote mine and am wondering if we saw the same movie. That truly is how divisive this film seems to be………and I love it!

 

Love Flick xx

 

 

 

Movie Review: The Hangover Part III

 

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Director : Todd Phillips

Starring : Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, Heather Graham

Running Time : 100 minutes

Release Date : In cinemas now

 

So the boys are back.

Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Doug (Bartha), along with some family and friends, stage an intervention for Alan (Galifianakis). He agrees to go to rehab in Arizona so the boys embark on a 2 day road trip to deliver him safe and sound. Of course, when The Wolfpack gets together, things go awry…..and this time is no different.

 

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The boys are tracked down en route by Marshall (Goodman) who wants them to find Chow (Jeong). Chow has just broken out of a prison in Bangkok and is looking for fun. And fun for this lot means Vegas. The Wolfpack and Chow in Vegas….. hilarity ensues.

Except that it doesn’t. Hilarity does not ensue…. and it was so disappointing that I almost couldn’t bear to write a review.

So what went wrong?

All the original actors are present and accounted for and there are some extraordinary cameos from the likes of John Goodman and the current comedy golden girl, Melissa McCarthy. Actually, McCarthy’s brief but pivotal turn as the sassy Cassie (oh look, some humour) is one of the movie’s highlights.

 

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The movie sticks to the basic formula except this time around, they don’t wake up and have to try to piece together the night before. But this alone is not responsible for this movie’s flaws. It is just not as funny as it’s predecessors. Even Mr Chow could only elicit a few chuckles from the audience. Traditionally, Mr Chow’s one liners are the ones we see quoted over and over and make the bulk of post Hangover viewing facebook status updates.

Clearly if the jokes aren’t funny, the script is lacking. And it is. The writing is lazy and at times cruel. Neither I nor my fellow cinema patrons thought a giraffe being decapitated on a freeway by a low overpass was funny. It was a childish, bizarre and unnecessary ‘ joke ‘ that added nothing to the story.

But it wasn’t all bad.

 

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There were some funny moments and there are some twists that I didn’t see coming. The story itself isn’t too bad but as the final part of a very successful franchise, I was expecting much more. The story does tie up some loose ends…. we get to see what became of Stu’s first wife, the hooker with a heart Jade and her then infant son.

Speaking of loose ends, the movie does do an excellent job of finalising the franchise. All the major characters are rounded out and given their endings. The chances of another Hangover movie are slim…… and that’s not a bad thing.

 

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This movie was not great for me. I do know people, however, who have loved it. But that’s the great thing about movies, they are so subjective. The first movie is a classic, the second one was less funny but still pretty damn good. This one does it’s job…… it ties things up. Alas, it doesn’t do it with the humour we have come to expect from Alan, Chow and co. And that’s such a shame.

 

Love Flick xx

 

Movie Review: On The Road #FFShout #IDAHO

 

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Director : Walter Salles

Starring :  Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Danny Morgan, Elisabeth Moss, Alice Braga, Terrence Howard, Steve Buscemi

Running Time : 124 minutes

Release Date :   Showing at the ShOUT! Film Festival, Friday 17 May….. booking details here

The best teacher is experience

Based on the classic Jack Kerouac novel of the same name, this is the tale of budding writer Sal Paradise (Riley) as he traverses America in search of …… something. Once he meets the dangerously seductive Dean (Hedlund) and his teenage bride Marylou (Stewart), his life is forever transformed. This trio form the core group for an array of travellers who drift in and out of Sal’s life, all leaving an indelible impact on the young man and what would ultimately become his defining work.

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Now, I feel it prudent to mention that I have not read Kerouac’s On The Road. Nor am I an expert on Kerouac …. or his works…. or the beat generation. But the reality is this novel IS the work he is noted for. Mention Kerouac and even those of us with only fleeting knowledge of the man immediately think of On The Road.

Why am I rattling on about the book? Well that would be because after I watched the movie last night, I was intrigued enough to do a little research on Kerouac. And what did I find? Many people who have read the book and watched the movie did not feel the movie was a true reflection of the novel and thus, were disappointed in the final result. But I am not coming from that place. I have nothing to compare my movie viewing experience with so for me, it’s all organic.

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So back to the movie…. and while I do not condone drug or alcohol use or abuse, I won’t be moralising either.

I found this movie intriguing and intoxicating…. sexy and sensual…. lush and languid….. honest and heartbreaking…..but also a little pretentious at times. There were moments that made me wish I was young and carefree again as these young people drank and took drugs for days on end, sleeping between bouts of philosophical musings and inward thinking, with no thought to the consequences or the future. Their endless quest for meaning and spiritual insight is something familiar to many of us. I’m still a searcher (which may explain my almost constant state of restlessness) but I no longer have the luxury of spending days on end stoned or travelling while I search. Yeah so perhaps I am a little envious of this carefree existence. But that’s what it’s all about right?

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The movie’s protagonists take to the road many times and along the way meet a collection of seemingly random but always life changing people. Each person has something unique to offer, something unique they endure. Sal’s close friend Carlo (Sturridge) pines endlessly for Dean. He writes poetry for and muses with great insight on their relationship. Dean indulges sexually but does not love him back. Dean indulges with almost everyone, in one way or another. Emotionally, sexually, philosophically or as a simple business transaction….. all roads lead to Dean.

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This movie reminds me of My Own Private Idaho. Not so much the storyline, although the relationship  between Sal and Dean is vaguely reminiscent of that between Scott and Mike in the aforementioned movie. It’s the general feel of the movie. The cinematography….. the use of the American landscape almost as another character. Lots of long sweeping shots of the endless roads, clever use of filters and colours to enhance or detract. Seasons coming and going to mark time and the arrival or departure of co-travellers.

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The cast does a superb job of bringing the movie to life. As this is a movie full of cameos, all actors excepting the core trio, had little time to showcase their exceptionally quirky and nuanced characters. From the little known Sturridge to the Oscar nominated Mortensen and Adams, each person is brought to life with skilled subtlety to add depth and meaning to this voyage of self discovery.

But the movie belongs to Riley and Hedlund. Riley’s Sal morphs from budding writer to fully fledged literary genius over the course of the movie’s 2 hours. A participant in his life but always seemingly half a step removed so he can fully observe…..as all writers’ must do by natural default. Sometimes he interacts, sometimes he simply watches and waits. But he always indulges his passion for words and allows himself to be swept away in them. Again, I am envious of this man and can only dream of penning an On The Road myself *sighs*

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And then there is Dean. Hedlund, with his classically cool good looks and oh so sexy deep, gravelly voice brings all the charm to the screen. He seduces almost everyone he comes into contact with…. all in the name of self-gratification. But our dangerously delicious bad boy is on a path of self-destruction. His bravado and all-encompassing sexual prowess hiding a fractured soul that will give all but his heart. From the outset, you know this will all end badly.

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Maybe I should read the book sometime…. I can always buy it and let it join all the others on my Shelf of Shame (this is where I keep all the books I am going to read someday. All bookworms have one …… don’t even try to deny it ha ha ha)

This movie will not be to everyone’s liking or taste but it does explore a time in history that I wish I could have been part of. It was a time of great social change….. the calm before the storm so to speak…… changes that are still unfolding today and hopefully will keep unfolding. I loved this movie …… even with its touch of pretension *coughs* It’s a lengthy 2 hours but it’s a journey worth taking.

Love Flick xx

Text Things – The next big thing?

 

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A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with and befriending a young man named Jeff Bell. Jeff was one of those kids you knew was going places. When asked  ‘so young Jeff, what are you going to do when you leave school? ‘  he would answer with a healthy mix of taking over the business world and having some fun. A young man who knew who he was and where he wanted to go but was always going to make time to …. well be a kid and enjoy his youth. Great answers always.

Fast forward a few years and what do I find? Jeff’s company appsion is about to launch it’s new app Text Things. According to their website ….

Text Things can only be described as the next big thing in mobile gaming.  This multi-player release is not only guaranteed to hook you from your first turn, it’s about to connect you even more with your friends and bring out your competitive side!  Whether you take the challenge with your family, your pals or another player from the mix, you will not want to put the phone down.

YAY!! I can’t wait.  I am all for apps that don’t need you to pay attention for oh look….True Blood is back in June and I’m hungry….. I am SO hiring a chef someday……. 😉

But wait there’s more!

Not only is appsion launching a new app, they are also supporting a charity near and dear to their hearts beyondblue and attempting a world record in the process.

 

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On Saturday the 11th of May 2013, Appsion will attempt to smash several world records with the release of his new game “Text Things”. With $1 from every app sold in the first week going directly to Beyond Blue Australia, the team hope to make a substantial difference to people’s lives. Jeff strongly believes that “depression is crippling to the individual and their families, it can destroy the ability to construct a future”. He goes on to say that it can be difficult for individuals to recognise that they don’t have to battle it alone and that’s why he wants to help.

Impressive huh….. yeah we think so too.

 

Brody Read and Jeff Bell

Brody Read and Jeff Bell

 

Jeff was gracious enough to spare a few moments to chat with me last week and after we did some catching up ….. hey we are friends after all….. I asked him why he and his Appsion partner Brody Read were so passionate about supporting beyondblue. His answer startled me a little. He told me that over the years, he had seen many of his friends suffer from depression and no-one was really sure what to do or say. Had support or info such as provided by organisations such as beyondblue been more readily available, things may have been a lot easier on everyone. This was his way of giving back to the community….to those who help others. He hopes to raise $10 000 on launch day.

So how can you help? I’m glad you asked …..

Easy!  Anyone who purchases Text Things on the day of the launch will be supporting beyondblue!  Your purchase through the Apple Store will mean YOU are contributing $1.00 to beyondblue.

There will also be a launch celebration with competitions, more world record attempts and even a circus…….yep a circus…. on hand to mark the big day. You can find out more about this event by visiting the website or their facebook page

I am so proud of what these young men have achieved and what they are hoping to achieve. So please show your support for some local boys by liking them, following them…….all the stuff we usually do.

But most importantly buy the app and help support the already amazing work done by beyondblue

 

 

Film Festival: ShOUT! Gay, Lesbian and Trans Film Festival

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Newcastle’s only Gay, Lesbian & Trans Film Festival is back for its 2nd year to help raise awareness for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO). After the festival’s successful maiden year in 2012, Tower Cinemas Newcastle will once again host the shOUT Film Festival this year which boasts 3 days of cinema from around the world from Friday 17 May.

The festival aims to raise awareness for IDAHO in conjunction with other activities in the region. The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) began in France and Canada in 2004 celebrating the day when homosexuality was officially removed from the list of diseases by the World Health Organisation in 1990.

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This year’s official selection for the shOUT Film Festival includes Struck By Lightning, a comedy written by and starring Chris Colfer (Kurt from Glee) and Australian comedian Rebel Wilson and Farewell, My Queen a french period film which explores the relationship between Marie Antoinette and female members of her court at the beginning of the French revolution.

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The Hour of Living will also make its Australian premiere during the festival. Directed by British newcomer director/actor Sebastian Michael, the film is a “bittersweet drama which ranks as one of the best”(L’arena, August 2012). With breathtaking cinematography and “masterful acting” set against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps, the film is also coupled with a unique soundtrack influenced by folk and grass roots music which is equally as good as the film itself.

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A selection of short films will also be included throughout the program with each feature as well as both political identities and community members will be speaking before the opening film Struck by Lightning.

Tickets are $15 per session, season passes which include tickets to all films are $75. Both individual tickets and season passes are available via shoutfilmfestival.com or the Tower Cinemas box office, 185 King street, Newcastle.

Travel and accommodation information for those who will be travelling to Newcastle for the weekend is also available through the festivals official website.

Festival Timetable:

Friday 17 May

7pm Struck By Lightning Comedy Stars: Chris Colfer, Rebel Wilson USA

 

9pm On The Road Drama Stars: Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst  Viggo Mortensen USA

Saturday 18 May

7pm Farewell, My Queen Drama Stars: Diane Kruger France

 

9pm Circumstance Drama Stars: Sarah Kazemy, Nokohl Boosheri Iran

Sunday 19 May

5pm Toast Comedy Stars: Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter UK

 

 

7pm The Hour of Living Drama Stars: Sam Fordham & Sebastian Michael UK

Movie Review: The Big Wedding

 

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Director : Justin Zackham

Starring : Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Topher Grace, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Ben Barnes, Robin Williams, Patricia Rae

Running Time : 89 minutes

Release Date :   In Cinema Now

 

It’s never too late to start acting like a family

Alejandro(Barnes) and Missy (Seyfried) are getting married. Alejandro’s adopted parents Don and Ellie (De Niro and Keaton) have been divorced for years and Don is living with Bebe (Sarandon). Alejandro has managed to keep this secret from his ultra- conservative Colombian birth mother Madonna (Rae). But Madonna has decided, much to everyone’s surprise, to attend the wedding.

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This news throws the entire family into chaos and it is decided that Don and Ellie will simply pretend to be married for the weekend that Madonna is visiting. As the family, including the almost 30 year old virgin Jared (Grace) and the recently separated Lyla (Heigl) begin to descend on the family home for the upcoming nuptials hilarity, as they say, ensures.

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The opening scenes of the movie between Ellie, Don and Bebe are hilarious and raunchy. De Niro as the funny guy still amazes and delights me, Keaton’s character is not as uptight as she usually plays and Sarandon is, as always, simply glorious.

This family is quirky and dysfunctional in a very ordinary way. The dynamics would be familiar to many of us …..  from the daughter still angry at her father for having an affair to the new in-laws desperate to impress. The young soon to be married couple watch their families seemingly spiral out of control and in trying to keep everyone else happy, find themselves at odds with their own wedding.

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There are lots of laughs to be had with some tender, touching moments as well. This is not a thigh slapping, in your face comedy, it is clever comedy. Sure, some of the jokes fall flat but I never thought I would be spending 90 minutes laughing either. The dramatic moments are just enough… nothing too deep but enough to engage you.

The moments shared between Alejandro and his 3 mothers are the best in the movie. He is after all, for the weekend at least, the centre of this entire, crazy family. Although very different, his relationships with each of these women are very special and wonderful to watch.

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In contrast, his sister Lyla’s relationships with the men in her life….. her father, husband and brother …. are markedly different. They are also less engaging. But perhaps that has more to do with Heigl than anything else. For the most part, as an actress, I find her particularly dull and a little off-putting. Strange because I loved her in Gray’s Anatomy.

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When we throw into the mix Missy’s uptight parents, who have a few secrets of their own and Robin Williams as the local Catholic priest, this movie is for the most part great fun. It’s a nice comedy drama that, even though predictable in parts, is still entertaining. To be honest, with a stellar cast such as this movie boasts, I was expecting much more. The large ensemble cast movie, so popular in recent years, can be a hit or miss affair and while this is a hit, it is only just. I think that’s the problem, I expected too much.

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So I suppose you should walk in with no expectations, take the movie for what it is and just enjoy.

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A big thank you to Event Cinemas and Chicks at the Flicks for your hospitality

Love Flick xx