17 Again [M]

 

Director : Burr Steers
Starring : Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Allison Miller, Tyler Steelman
Running Time : 102 minutes
DVD Release Date : Sometime in 2010

‘Who says you’re only young once’

Mike O’Donnell (Efron/Perry) is 17 years old, a star basketball player with a beautiful girlfriend Scarlet (Miller/Mann) and the world at his feet. On the very day college scouts are at one of his games, Scarlet tells him she is pregnant. In a moment of all consuming teenage passion (ironically, possibly the exact same emotion that got the young couple here in the first place) he promises to marry her.

In the next scene, Mike wakes as a late 30 something man, bunking down with his childhood friend, the now incredibly wealthy and quirkily juvenile businessman Ned Gold(Steelman/Lennon). Scarlet, now his wife has booted him out because she is tired of hearing him complain about what he has missed out on by being with her. Mike goes to his old high school to visit his kids and while there, meets a mysterious janitor who asks if he wishes he was 17 again. Naturally, he says yes.

Mike wakes as his 17 year old self and decides to right the wrongs in his life by living it again. Ned agrees to pose as Mike’s father and he is enrolled in high school. His first day he shows up bedazzled in tacky Ed Hardy attire, complete with sideways facing baseball cap. Ned takes him shopping and a silver sports car, white t-shirt, black jeans and a leather jacket later, Mike is once again the hot, cool kid.

17 year old Mike befriends his kids at school and realises his son is being bullied and his daughter is running a little bit wild. He sees this as a failure on his part as a parent and sets about sorting out their lives.

A chance meeting with his almost ex-wife is memorable because she is immediately drawn to her son’s ‘new friend Mark’ as he reminds her of her husband. Hmmmm I wonder why. The two strike up an awkward friendship with Scarlet confused about her attraction to this ‘boy’ and Mark/Mike trying to conceal the love that is rekindling for his wife. As Scarlet prepares for a date, she and Mark dance together and both get momentarily lost in the moment. Their son walks in confused and the moment is gone. Probably a good thing because it gets a little intense.

Mike has to deal with lustful teenage girls and angry high school jocks as he tries to sort out the lives and relationships of his kids. His daughter is about to throw away her future on her loser boyfriend and his son is awkward and continually bullied.

The sub plot in the movie is Ned’s amusingly geeky seduction of the High School Principal. His pursuit is relentless and when she finally agrees to go to dinner with him, we learn along with Ned that she is a secret geek herself. It is true love. Awwwwwww

This is a great fun movie. It appeals to young and old and everyone in between. It has it’s fun flirty moments but nothing to extreme. It didn’t and was never meant to set the world on fire. Perry is solid and Mann is perfect as the older but still very cute Scarlet. If the role of Scarlet was cast with anyone else, Mann’s scenes with Efron may have seemed creepy instead of wistful and loving as they ultimately played.

17 Again was simply a vehicle to cash in on the immense popularity of Zac Efron who, at the time, was riding high on his High School Musical fame. I suppose it was also to introduce him to more adult audiences and more adult roles. He did very well walking the line between teenager and young man quite nicely. He was still on the nerdy side but was certainly showing he was growing into his looks and maturing as both a person and an actor.

You can probably find 17 Again on the $9 shelves at your local department store. It’s definitely worth a second look.

New Year’s Eve [M]

 

Director : Garry Marshall
Starring : Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro, Hector Elizondo, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jon Bon Jovi, Zac Efron, Jessica Biel, Abigail Breslin, Seth Meyers, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Duhamel
Running Time : 118 minutes
Release Date : Out on DVD now

‘Let love be your resolution’

It’s New Year’s Eve 2011 in New York City. This movie gives us a snapshot of just a few hours in the lives of a variety of people as they go about their day during the last moments of the year. The ensemble cast is a veritable who’s who of acting talent, from the most revered and respected (De Niro) to the child star (Breslin) blossoming into a young woman.

The movie comprises a series of vignettes that ultimately interconnect in some way. There is the story of 2 couples about to have a child, vying for the $25000 prize money given for the first child born in the New Year. An aging rock star, maybe not at the top of his game but far from the has been pile yet, trying to woo back his one true love.

We have a dying man, desperate to reconnect with his estranged family and see the great crystal Time Square ball drop one last time. A frumpy, dowdy woman has been pushed to the end of her quietly unravelling tether and is shown a glimpse of herself she could only ever imagine. A young man, utterly self-absorbed, learns that giving someone else their dreams can fulfil dreams of your own. A girl on the verge of womanhood tries desperately to escape the overprotective clutches of a mother trying just as desperately to hang onto her child.

The young and the old, the happy and the sad, the beginning and the end all meet, mix, meld and mould into each other as the movie progresses. We start to see the connections as the stories naturally progress. There are a few twists but nothing too dramatic.

The movie is also a story of New York City. More specifically New York City on New Year’s Eve. A night (or day depending on where you are in the world) when the eyes of the world turn to this city that pulses and vibrates on the energy of it’s millions of inhabitants and visitors, all keen to share in this special event. We see the inner workings of the famous crystal ball that descends each New Year’s Eve and the behind the scenes work that goes into making this all run smoothly.

This movie has all the elements of a great movie. A wonderful Director, an unrivalled cast, great setting, fantastic city, a pivotal event most of us can relate to and feel excited about. But there is something lacking. Perhaps it is because it is so very similar to Marshall’s last Director’s outing, Valentine’s Day. I loved Valentine’s Day. I watch it every time it’s on Foxtel. Okay so I don’t sit down and watch it but I have it on in the background and glance at it as I do other stuff….like write movie reviews.

This movie just lacks the zing of Valentine’s Day. Maybe because it has been done before and this one tries just a little too hard.

I think there are just too many stories so you never get the chance to really relate to the characters. The setting and scenery is spectacular. New York City at night is beyond magnificent. There is nothing wrong with the acting…..okay there is one thing. Jon Bon Jovi, I love you. I have loved you since I was a teenager. You are an okay actor. You are. But you should never, ever, ever again accept a role in a movie starring the likes of de Niro, Pfeiffer or Elizondo. It’s just not a good idea. Strut your stuff on stage and sing your heart out. It’s what you do best.

I loved this movie more when I saw it at the cinema but in hindsight that may have had more to do with the circumstances than the actual movie. Now when I watch the DVD, I only like the movie. It is not a bad movie, not at all. It’s just not a really great movie. You will get a few laughs, shed a tear or two, have a couple of nawwww moments and a few scenes are really great. Pfeiffer and Efron dancing during the credits is truly a delight.

New Year’s Eve is a great DVD to rent on a cold rainy night and watch while snuggled under a blanket.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoS7Tlz-lBg

Big Mamma’s Boy [PG]

 

Director : Franco di Chiera
Starring : Frank Lotito, Holly Valance, Carmelina Di Guglielmo
Running Time : 94 minutes
DVD Release Date : Out now

‘A comedy about life, love and lasagna.’

Rocco (Lotito) is a 35 year old Aussie man of Italian descent still living at home with his mother (Di Guglielmo). Although he is a successful Real Estate Agent and could well afford to live on his own, he stays at home. Mamma does everything for him. She cooks, cleans, makes his lunch…..she even makes sure his little red sports car is buffed to perfection. Then Rocco meets and falls for Kate (Valance) and she challenges him to live on his own to win her heart. And hilarity ensues…..right?

Ummmmm…..

The idea behind this movie is actually a great one. Australia is a multi-cultural society and many of us, especially those of a certain age, know these Mamma’s boys. It is quite a, dare I say it, foreign concept to a large segment of the Aussie population that a grown man would have no inclination to leave home. Of course, with the economy the way it is now, this attitude has altered slightly. But you stay at home between houses or jobs. Or to save for a house of your own. You don’t stay at home just because you can.

You can read the rest of my review at Beauty and Lace http://entertainment.beautyandlace.net/dvd-review-big-mammas-boy-pg

Submarine [M]

 

Director: Richard Ayoade
Starring: Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Yasmin Paige
Running Time : 97 minutes
DVD Release Date: TBA

‘Most people think of themselves as individuals, that there is no one else on the planet like them.’

Oliver Tate (Roberts) is a very ordinary 15 year old boy living in a very ordinary Welsh town. He lives with his depressed father (Taylor) and his repressed mother (Hawkins). He falls for the darkly mysterious Jordana (Paige) and embarks on an awkward relationship with her with a few unexpected twists and turns. He spies on his parents, routinely searching their bedroom for indicators of how healthy their relationship is and when an old boyfriend of his mother’s returns, his obsession increases.

This movie has lots of things I love about movies. It’s an indie with a first time director…..so no one is demanding or expecting anything. It looks and feels quirky…nobody does quirky quite like the Brits. It has an unknown as it’s lead actor…again, no expectations. It has an incredible support cast, most notably the ever versatile and unafraid Australian Taylor (and you all know how I love me some Aussie actor!) and the divinely nuanced Hawkins.

submarine

 

You can read the rest of my review at  Beauty and Lace http://entertainment.beautyandlace.net/dvd-review-submarine-m

Footloose [M]

 

Director : Craig Brewer
Starring : Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Miles Teller
Running Time : 108 minutes
DVD Release Date : 9 February 2012

“There comes a time to cut loose”

Okay, I need to start by saying I am not a big fan of studios remaking MY beloved 80’s movies…especially the feel-good dancing ones. So when my editor asked me to review this movie, I did actually think about it before saying yes. She trusted me so this would be a good test of my ability to be objective in reviews. Right?

The day before the DVD arrived, the original Footloose was showing on Foxtel so I took it as a sign and watched it. Yep still as cheesy and as 80’s and as fantastic as ever! Oh dear….

For those who don’t know, Footloose is the story of a small town that has outlawed dancing after the death of 5 teenagers in a car accident. Ren (Wormald) a young rebel from Boston arrives to live with relatives after the death of his mother. He is immediately drawn to Ariel (Hough) the local preacher’s daughter, who is herself rebelling against her father and the town’s ultra-controlling ways. He decides to take a stand against the city elders and, with the support of his family and the local kids, goes about getting his graduating class a prom to remember. Dancing included!

footloose

The movie begins with a bunch of teenagers jumping and dancing and singing their hearts out to the original Kenny Loggins version of ‘Footloose’. As they should! It’s a GREAT song that has stood the test of time. My inner 80’s child sneered but I smiled just a little. Then an homage to the dancing feet opening credits of the original movie began and I smiled a little more.

You can read the rest of my review at Beauty and Lace http://entertainment.beautyandlace.net/dvd-review-footloose-m

Peep World [MA15+]

 

Director: Barry W. Blaustein
Starring: Michael C Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ben Schwartz, Ron Rifkin, Judy Greer
Running Time: 79 minutes
DVD Release Date: Out Now

‘All your family’s dirty little secrets. Now a #1 best seller ‘

Nathan Meyerwitz (Schwartz) is the youngest of 4 siblings and has written a #1 best seller exposing his family in all it’s dysfunctional glory. He has not seen any of his family since the book’s release and ensuing success and, as the family gathers for their father’s (Rifkin) 70th birthday dinner, tensions and insecurities unfurl and threaten to explode.

I had never even heard of Peep World, so when it arrived on my doorstep and I took a look at the cast, I was VERY excited. Michael C Hall (most notably of Six Feet Under and Dexter fame) is Jack, a self-employed architect and eldest of the siblings. Judy Greer (an actress I adore, usually cast as the supportive friend/girlfriend/wife and always brilliant) is his wife Laura, 7 weeks away from giving birth to their first child.

Sarah Silverman (hilarious comedienne/actress/writer who got her start on SNL) is Cheri, the only sister and a struggling, manically neurotic actress. Rainn Wilson (of the US Office TV series acclaim) rounds out the siblings and is the family screw up……well every family has it’s black sheep and he is it.

Also in the cast are Lesley Ann Warren, Kate Mara and Alicia Witt. I waited patiently for Xmas to be over so I would have a chance to sit down and watch this movie. I was expecting great things indeed!

You can read the rest of my review at Beauty and Lace http://entertainment.beautyandlace.net/dvd-review-peep-world-ma-15

The Trip [MA15]

 

Director : Michael Winterbottom
Starring : Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
Running Time : 107 minutes
DVD Release Date : Out Now

‘Two friends….One trip….10 Restaurants…..and the Journey of a Lifetime’

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon star as themselves in this very British comedy. Coogan is asked by The Observer (a British newspaper, published on Sundays) to review 10 of the country’s finest Northern restaurants. Nobody else, including his girlfriend, wants to go with him so he asks Brydon. And off they go….

I immediately recognized both Coogan and Brydon but could not quite place them. As it turns out, they are well-known British actors with long, varied resumes as both actors and writers, writing mostly comedy shows for themselves. They work together quite a lot.

the trip

The movie begins in London with scenes of freeways and traffic and buildings as far as the eye can see. As they venture north, this urban jungle is replaced by scenes of breathtaking beauty. When I think of England, right or wrong, I think of 2 things….either crowded, industrialised cities or miles and miles of rolling lush, green hills. This is different.

These fields are golden and sunny, the roads long and winding between small walls of stone or hedges. There are certainly days of rain and mist and clouds but it’s the colours that grabbed my attention. Wide shots of snow covered mountain ranges as the car winds over the road below. Perhaps it was Autumn during filming or England is as dry as Australia is wet the last few years. Or maybe the Director drained some of the green colour during editing. I have no idea, but what I do know is that the scenes of rural England in this movie are extraordinary. Just gorgeous.

One amusingly ironic scene involves Coogan trudging for what seems a very long time up a mountain in the middle of nowhere to get mobile phone reception so he can call his Agent and then his girlfriend. Yes, in that order.

You can read the rest of my review at Beauty and Lace http://entertainment.beautyandlace.net/dvd-review-the-trip-ma-15

Friends with Benefits [MA 15+]

 

Director: Will Gluck
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson
Running Time: 109 minutes
DVD Release Date: December 16 2011

Jamie (Kunis) is a corporate head hunter (she prefers Executive Recruiter) trying to recruit Dylan (Timberlake) from his small yet successful, Los Angeles based internet blog to Art Director of GQ magazine in New York City.

The two become fast friends. As the title suggests, they quickly embark on a sex only, physical relationship, all the while vowing, via a funny ipad bible app scene no less, to remain friends no matter what.

friends with benefits

‘No relationship….no emotions….just sex. Whatever happens….. we stay friends’

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that….

The movie starts at a cracking pace and does not let up for the first 45 minutes or so. The dialogue is quick, witty and intelligent. The chemistry between Kunis and Timberlake is believable. There are many references to Hollywood romantic movies and actors are named and shamed for their part in perpetuating the notion of an idealised true love. Oh yes…..an anti-rom com movie. Loving it!

There are some genuinely hilarious moments and when the pair has their first sexual encounter, the results are unexpectedly funny. Much of the humour comes from the fact that, as this is just ‘a sex thing’, they feel no need for the subtle niceties usually employed during intimate moments with a new lover.

The do and don’t lists Jamie and Dylan both sprout off are laugh out loud funny because they are so very true. He leaves his socks on, she doesn’t bother to shave her legs. They banter back and forth poking fun at romantic sex. As their affair continues, the dialogue and scenes become more intimate but no less entertaining.

You can read the rest of my review at Beauty and Lace http://entertainment.beautyandlace.net/dvd-review-friends-with-benefits-ma-15

The Adjustment Bureau [PG]

 

Rated: PG
Director: George Nolfi
Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, Terence Stamp, John Slattery
Running Time: 106 minutes
Release Date: In cinemas now

‘Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us?’

This is one of the tag lines for this movie and it is because of this line alone that I decided it was a must see at the cinema.

AJB

David Norris (Damon) is running for a seat in the US Senate and all is going very, very well. Clearly, he is on track to become a President of the United States at some point in the future but then a sordid tabloid story derails his career. At just this moment in time, he meets the beautiful dancer, Elise Sellas (Blunt). Norris is spellbound and the pair quickly fall in love.

Enter the mysterious men-in-black types, The Adjustment Bureau, who will do anything in their power to keep the pair apart. It is now that Norris must decide if he controls his own destiny or if it is simply pre-destined. With New York City as a backdrop, the movie then follows Norris over the next few years as he faces and deals with choices and consequences….fate and chance.

the-adjustment-bureau

The beginning of the movie with it’s slew of famous political and social commentators and news people, many of whom Australian viewers would be familiar with, gave a John F Kennedy kind of hype to the character of Norris. I can imagine scenes like this 50 years ago when the young JFK stepped into the public arena, his sights firmly set on the White House.

You can read the rest of my review at Beauty and Lace http://entertainment.beautyandlace.net/movie-reviewthe-adjustment-bureau

I Am Number 4 [M]

 

Director : DJ Caruso
Starring : Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron
Running Time : 110 minutes
Release Date :February 24, 2011

This movie has it all. A movie adaptation of a novel by the same name (authored by Pittacus Lore) it has a handsome, mysterious yet gentle hearted hero, the beautiful yet misunderstood girl who falls for hero, the downtrodden geek who befriends hero, the warrior/father/guardian figure who protects hero, the school yard bullies who taunt everyone and the bad guys who want to kill hero. There is even an adorable yet strange beagle who hero adopts.

But let me tell you more about the hero…

John Smith (Pettyfer) is one of 9 very special and uniquely gifted children hidden on earth after their home planet is destroyed. Each child is accompanied by a guardian whose sole purpose is to protect the child. 3 children have been killed and John is number 4.

At the age of 15, John and his guardian/father Henri (Olyphant) are adept at moving on quickly, silently and leaving no trace of themselves. After 3 is killed, the ‘family’ move to sleepy, anonymous Paradise, Ohio, where Henri has business to attend to, in the hope of escaping John’s fate at the hands of the evil Mogadorians (more on them later).

John’s attempts to blend in go awry as he is set upon almost immediately by the school bullies for his interest in the softly spoken and ethereal looking Sarah (Glee’s Agron). He antagonises the bullies further by befriending the school geek, who will become a pivotal character before long.

It is about this time that John’s gifts begin to emerge….and they are pretty cool. Whether this is due to his emotions, the natural order of things or the fact that the bad guys are after him is never clear. I think it’s a combination of all the above. Now about those bad guy Mogadorians.

You won’t be able to miss them as they are 8 foot tall, bald, tattooed black trench coat wearing heavies who drive around in a cavalcade of shiny, black cars. They also have creepy yet completely mesmerizing gills near their noses. Oh and sharp, pointy teeth. Contrasted against the average, if very good-looking, humans, truly scary. I LOVED them!

About two-thirds of the way through the movie, the character played by Aussie actress Teresa Palmer starts to have a major impact. I won’t say who she is (you should go see the movie to find out) but I will say that she makes Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft look like a frumpy wanna-be.

I love seeing Australians in the movies, especially the up and coming actors and in this one, she gets to keep her Aussie accent. It so rarely happens that it is noteworthy. It really did make me smile.

This movie is like a roller-coaster. It races along, slows down only to pick up speed then ease back a little again. But when the race for the last giant loop begins, it moves along sharply as all the puzzle pieces fall into place. I would have liked some of the characters to have been fleshed out some more and some are a little cliché (watch for the big bully’s police officer father) but overall, it was not a movie that you could say was lacking in this area.

The special effects were well done and the monsters and bad guys were scary enough without being gross. The ending is left open to a sequel but satisfying enough in itself. In fact, the novel is only the first in a six book series (according Wikipedia) so there is my answer.

Now how do I recommend this movie? I had my teenage sons (14 and almost 17) with me and they both thought the film was ‘hectic’. The younger one raced home and googled the book once we saw it was a novel.

This film is clearly targeted to the under 30 market and I think it will do very well, especially as there were half a dozen or so girls swooning over the lead actor’s poster as we waited in the movie theatre’s lobby for the movie begin.

I am obviously not this movie’s target audience but should you give it a miss? Absolutely not! It was an entirely pleasant way to spend a rainy, humid Sunday afternoon and that is exactly what we did.