Category Archives: Movie Review

Flashback Friday-Labyrinth (1986)

Babysitting from the outside looking in, appears to be simple. But it is not so simple, especially when the baby one is baby sitting will not stop crying.

In the 1986 movie, Labyrinth, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is not happy about being forced to babysit her baby brother. When the baby is unable to stop crying, she makes a wish to the Goblin King, Jareth (the late David Bowie) to take away her brother, her wish is granted. Sarah quickly regrets her decision and asks Jareth to return her brother. But Jareth refuses and Sarah has until midnight to rescue her brother. If she does not, he will become a goblin. Teaming up with fantastical creatures, can Sarah rescue her brother?

What makes this movie stand out for me is not just the fact that it is Jim Henson film, but that David Bowie, as both an actor and a musician has a unique take on his role. If he was just an actor and not a musician, the role would have come across differently on-screen. I also appreciate that the female lead is not the typical female lead who follows the typical narrative.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-Drop Dead Fred (1991)

Many of us have imaginary friends during our childhoods. As we grow older, the imaginary friends are replaced by real friends. But what would happen if the imaginary friend from our childhood came back to us during adulthood?

In the 1991 movie, Drop Dead Fred, Lizzie Cronin (Phoebe Cates) is dealing with the very adult situation of a less than faithful husband and a helicopter parent of a mother. Just when the chaos seems to be at its peak, her childhood imaginary best friend, Drop Dead Fred (Rik Mayall) comes back into her life and creates more chaos.

This movie is an interesting one for me. There are comedic elements that appeal to the young ones in the audience, but there is also a message about being an adult and finding your way as an adult when everything seems murky and unclear. If there is one thing that I take away from this movie is that is it possible to traverse the uncertain mountain that is adulthood and still come out reasonably sane.

I recommend it.

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Wonder Woman Review

It’s no secret that the world of super heroes is a boys club, especially the old school super heroes. Wonder Woman is an exception to the rule.

Last week, Wonder Woman hit theaters. Stepping into the very famous shoes that Lynda Carter wore in the 1970’s television series is Gal Gadot. The movie starts with Diana’s childhood on the idyllic island of Themyscira. The daughter of Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), the Queen Of The Amazons, Diana is protected from the outside world by her mother and her aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright), who is the general of the Amazons.

While Diana’s curiosity is temporarily quelled by her elders, it will soon be made unquenchable by the unexpected arrival of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Saving Steve from death, he becomes her conduit and her guide to the outside world. World War I is raging on and Diana, believes that she can end the war. She will soon learn that the world is not as simple as she believes it to be and sometimes, meeting our destiny means learning some hard truths.

The problem with many super hero films that are based on comics is that the films are often short on narrative and long on action. They also have a mostly male cast with a male director. If there are any women, they are either the token female or the damsel in distress love interest. This film contains neither. The character arc in this film is exactly what it should be. Diana starts off not exactly naive, but very gung-ho and eager to complete her mission. Steve, on the other hand, starts off as believing himself to be the traditional dominant male, but will learn quickly that Diana/Wonder Woman can easily take care of herself.

The film was also very funny, which is not often the case of the film of this genre. Many films take themselves a little too seriously.

I absolutely recommend it.

Wonder Woman is presently in theaters.

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Flashback Friday-Radio Days (1987)

When a writer mines for ideas, sometimes the best ideas come from their childhood.

The 1987 movie, Radio Days, is based on the childhood memories of writer/director Woody Allen. Growing up in Rockaway Beach, NY during World War II, Joe (played by Seth Green as a child and voiced over by Woody Allen as an adult) associates the various aspects of his life with the radio programs of the era. Told through the memories of the adult Joe, the film is a love letter to not just childhood, but also a time when radio was the medium that the world relied on for news and entertainment.

The best films are timeless because there is a universal quality to them. Despite the physical location and the time period that the film is set in, anyone from anywhere will find an aspect of the film that they can relate to. This movie is universal because it is about childhood, family and the memories we have long after we have become adults.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Bringing Up Baby (1938)

There are romantic comedies and then there are romantic comedies. Some are so horribly predictable and forgettable that it makes bad, predictable action films look good. Then there are the classics, that after generations, still make audiences laugh and are still as highly regarded as they were when they first hit theaters.

One of these classics is Bringing Up Baby (1938).

Good natured Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) is a paleontologist and a professor who has spent the last four years putting together a Brontosaurus skeleton. With the skeleton completed, he needs only the intercostal clavicle bone and one million dollars to complete the project. Wealthy and widowed Mrs. Random (May Robson) can provide the money, but first David has to go through Mrs. Robson’s lawyer, Alexander Peabody (George Irving). In addition to getting past Mr. Peabody, David also has to deal with Susan Vance (Katherine Hepburn), Mrs. Random’s ditzy niece who always seems to make trouble for David and make him look bad. Susan has recently adopted a leopard, named Baby, who seems to get David in as much hot water as his human mother.

Can David finish the project or will Susan (and his slowly to burn affection for her) for her stop him from seeing the skeleton in its complete form?

This movie is one of the essential romantic comedies. It is funny, it is charming and it has two of the best actors of the era playing the leading characters. Cary Grant was one of those actors whose good looks belied a comedic sense that is often repeated today, but never duplicated. Katherine Hepburn was not just a smart and independent woman off camera, but on camera as well. There are very few performers, especially female performers, who have the ability to smartly play down their intelligence to play up the comedy. Katherine Hepburn was one of those performers.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Golden Door (2006)

For millions of immigrants, Ellis Island was more than the gateway to America. It represented the opportunities and freedoms that did not exist in their previous homelands.

In the 2006 movie, Golden Door, Salvatore Mancuso (Vincenzo Amato) is a poor farmer from Sicily whose wife has died. Together with his surviving family, they hope to emigrate to America. On the ship bound for Ellis Island, he meets Lucy Reed (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who hopes to enter the US as a Mrs. and not a Miss. They agree to marry. But when they get to Ellis Island, both Lucy and Salvatore are in for a rude awakening. Before they can leave the island and truly become Americans, they have to pass a series of examinations and hope that the customs officials are satisfied with the results.

Like many Americans, my immigrant great-grandparents were part of the millions who passed through Ellis Island. What I appreciate about this film is not just the entertaining narrative, but it sheds on the lengths that many went through so they could truly call themselves Americans.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday- 54 (1998)

Studio 54 is one of the most notorious and infamous nightclubs in New York City’s history.

In 1998, the movie 54, told the story of Shane O’Shea (Ryan Phillippe), a young man who was employed at the nightclub during’s its heyday in the late 1970’s. Parallel to Shane’s downward spiral is the club’s downward spiral.

This movie is interesting. It is interesting because from outside of the velvet rope, Studio 54 was the hottest nightclub in town that most people could only dream of seeing with their own eyes. Inside, it is another story, especially from the point of view of a young man who is still growing into himself and unaware of the temptation that exists once he walked in the door.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Dirty Dancing TV Movie Review

*Warning-This review contains minor spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it.

Dirty Dancing is one of those movies. It became an instant classic when it hit theaters in 1987. Everything about that movie is iconic. The music, the story, the characters, etc, are instantly recognizable.

It’s therefore no wonder that ABC rebooted the movie last night into a television movie musical with Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes stepping into the very large shoes of Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze.

It’s still the summer of 1963. Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation with her doctor father, Jake (Bruce Greenwood), homemaker mother, Marjorie (Debra Messing) and elder sister Lisa (Sarah Hyland) at a resort in the Catskills. About to go to college and enter the real world, Baby is full of hopes and dreams, but also sheltered from the world by her parents.

She becomes infatuated with Johnny Castle, one of the resort’s dance teachers and steps up to become his dance partner when his regular dance partner, Penny (Nicole Scherzinger) gets pregnant and goes to a less than reputable doctor to have an abortion. While their relationship starts off as merely dance partners, they soon become more than dance partners, but their differences may tear them apart.

I very much appreciated that certain narratives and characters were expanded from the original movie. In the original movie, Lisa is a stereotype and Mrs. Houseman is a background player. In this version, Lisa is a deeper character (i.e. she is convinced by Baby to read The Feminine Mystique and see her herself as more than a girl who just wants to get married). Like many women of her generation, Mrs. Houseman was told that they should get married and have families. While they have done this, there is an aching need for something more. I also appreciated that Abigail Breslin is not a size 2.

For the most part, the creative team stuck to the story and characters that the audience anticipated. But there was something missing, something that the movie has that the television version does not.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Flashback Friday-Father Of The Bride (1991)

The two most important days in a man’s life is the day his daughter is born and the day he walks her up the aisle.

In the 1991 movie, Father Of The Bride, George Banks (Steve Martin) has just found out that his daughter, Annie (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is getting married. His reaction is not unexpected, but what is unexpected is the cost of the wedding.

A reboot of the 1950 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy, what I like about this movie is that George is an every man. He wants his daughter to be happy, but at the same time, he cannot wrap his head around the fact that his little girl is no longer a little girl. And of course, with comedy done as only Steve Martin can, it is one funny movie.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday- Love Affair

There is something wonderful and satisfying about a love story done right. The anticipation, the wonder and finally, the happy ending. Even those of us who are skeptical about love can’t help but shed a tear and smile.

The film Love Affair (1994), is not the first time this familiar narrative has been seen on the big screen. Audiences were first introduced to the story in 1939’s Love Affair, starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer and then in 1957’s An Affair To Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

In 1994, the narrative was revived a third time with IRL couple Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. Simply by pure luck, Mike Gambril (Beatty) and Terry McKay (Bening) purchased a plane ticket for the same flight. When the plane is forced to land midway through the flight, the passengers are ferried back to safety on a ship. Despite the fact that both Mike and Terry have significant others waiting for them, there is an obvious spark between them. To test if the attraction is real (and potentially long term) or a momentary twist of fate, they agree to meet up in New York City three months later. When one of them does not show up for their previously agreed upon appointment, doubts begin to form. Are Mike and Terry meant to be or just two ships in the night, just passing by each other?

What I appreciate about this movie is that despite the fact that it has two predecessors, it stands on its own two feet. It’s the kind of love story that I can appreciate. It has all of the highs and lows of the genre, without being too over the top or mushy.

I recommend it.

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