Category Archives: Movie Review

Flashback Friday-Flubber (1997)

The archetype of the professor who is book smart, but street dumb has existed for many generations and has been used by multiple writers over the years. The question becomes how does a writer use this archetype without creating a 2D, predictable character?

In 1997, the late Robin Williams starred in Flubber (a reboot of the 1961 movie The Absent Minded Professor starring Fred MacMurray). Professor Philip Brainard (Williams) is working on creating a substance that will save on the energy bills for the college in which is he is employed by. While the creation of the substance called Flubber is a success, his personal life is taking a downturn. His wedding to his fiance, Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds (Marcia Gay Harden) has been postponed twice. Will he choose his career and his creation or will he finally walk down the aisle?

This movie is very interesting. On one hand it is a reboot with Robin Williams playing the lead as only he can. But on the other hand, it feels like a generic family comedy without any elements that make the film standout.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies

Throwback Thursday-The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

When a film is adapted from a comic book, it must two serve purposes and two masters. It must please the comic’s core fanbase while appealing to new fans. It must also, as best as the creative team can, full transplant the narrative and characters from the page to the screen.

In 2003, the film adaptation of the comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen hit the big screen. In an AU (alternate universe) Victorian era, a group of heroes from famous novels must come together to save the world. The group includes Tom Sawyer (Shane West), from the classic Mark Twain novel, The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, and Mina Harker (Peta Wilson) from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Led by Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, this band of adventurers and heroes must save the world from a villain known as the Fantom.

Bear in mind that I have never read the comic book and when I saw the movie, I was unaware that the source material comes from a comic book. As a standalone movie, it’s ok. It’s just the run of the mill film adaptation of a comic book that is top-heavy on special effects and light on both character and narrative.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Landline Movie Review

For those of us of a certain age, the 1990’s invoke nostalgia for what appeared to be a simpler time.

The new movie, Landline, is set in New York City in 1995. Alan (John Turturro) and Pat (Edie Falco) are a married couple with two daughters: engaged twenty something Dana (Jenny Slate) and teenager Ali (Abby Quinn). The film starts out with a Norman Rockwell-ish image of a family who will soon be tested. Dana has been engaged to Ben (Jay Duplass) for a while, but it seems like their wedding day may not happen. Ali is the typical rebellious teenage girl. The drama really starts to ramp up when the girls discover that their father is having an affair and their mother struggles with the work/life balance that many women deal with.

This movie is refreshing and real. The characters that make up the family feel like any other family who love each other and try to make it work, despite their individual imperfections. It also feels nostalgic, not just because the film is set in 1995, but because it was just before computers and the internet took over the world.

I recommend it.

Landline is presently in theaters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Review, Movies, New York City

Throwback Thursday-With Honors (1994)

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I received 2 educations: one inside the classroom and the other outside of the classroom.

In the 1994 movie, With Honors, Monty (Brendan Fraser) has just completed his thesis, which he hopes will get him on the right track to a healthy and successful career. Then his computer dies on him (as usual at the most inconvenient of times). With only one physical copy of the thesis back to his name, Monty runs to the library to make a copy. But before he can get to the library, Monty slips and falls. The envelope holding the single copy of his thesis falls through a grate.

Desperate to locate it, Monty goes through the building that is connected through the grate. In the basement he finds homeless drifter named Simon (Joe Pesci) burning the pages to stay warm. Simon makes Monty a deal. Simon will give Monty a page a day. In return, Monty will house and feed Simon until he gets back what is left of his thesis. Monty hopes to get his thesis back, what he surprisingly gets is an education that goes far beyond the classroom.

What I like about this movie is not just the dynamic between Fraser and Pesci, but also the idea that education and learning does not stop when we leave the classroom.

I recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life, Movie Review, Movies

The Big Sick Movie Review

Like every genre, the romantic comedy genre has it’s standard narrative: the meet-cute, the will they or won’t they, the obstacles to the potential couples happiness and finally the happily ever after. While some movies keep to the standard narrative without doing anything new or different, some movies do.

In The Big Sick, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a first generation Pakistani-American Muslim. In his world, marriages are arranged. His family sets up a series of meet and greets with potential wives, but none of them click. An Uber driver by day and a stand up comedian by night, Kumail lives a life that is far from the traditional way of life his family is used to living.

Emily (Zoe Kazan) is a grad student. She meets Kumail at one of the comedy clubs he works at and they start dating. Two problems quickly arise: the first is that Kumail is hiding his relationship with Emily from his parents and Emily gets sick. Her parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) at first are not too pleased to have Kumail hanging around with them at the hospital, but then they slowly warm up to him. By the end of the film, two questions must be answered: will Emily and Kumail have some version of a happy ending and will Kumail tell his parents the truth about Emily?

The film is based upon the early relationship of it’s male lead and his real life wife, Emily V. Gordon. Among romantic comedies it stands out not only because of the diversity of the characters, but it also speaks to a modern audience. Regardless of religion or family background, there are many young adults and adults who have chosen move away from the traditional life that they were raised with. There are also many who have married outside of their culture and/or religion, to the dismay of their relations.

While it was a little long for my taste, it was funny and romantic because it felt real and normal. It was not over the top, it was not kitschy and it was just predictable enough without seeing the ending a mile away.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Big Sick is presently in theaters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Review, Movies

Menashe Movie Review

Single parenthood is never easy. It can be made especially harder when your own community is forcing you to re-marry.

In the new release, Menashe, Menashe (Menashe Lustig) is a widower and a member of New York City’s Hasidic (ultra-orthodox) Jewish community. After the recent death of his wife, his son was sent to live with his in-laws. Working at a grocery store, Menashe is told that he can only raise his son after he re-marries. The problem is that he has no interest in re-marrying. He needs to prove that he can raise his son without re-marrying.

Directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein, the film is set in Brooklyn. Containing English subtitles (with a rare exception, most of the characters speak entirely in Yiddish), the film is both charming and universal. While it is set in a very specific community, it is universal because speaks not only of the ups and downs of single parenthood, but also of the value of faith.

I absolutely recommend it.

Menashe is presently in theaters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Review, Movies, New York City

Throwback Thursday-That Old Feeling (1997)

Divorce is the last thing on many couple’s minds as they repeat their wedding vows. But sometimes divorce is for the best.

In the 1997 movie, That Old Feeling, Lilly (Bette Midler) and Dan (Dennis Farina) have been passionately divorced for years. Nothing makes their skin crawl more than to be around each other. Their daughter, Molly (Paula Marshall) is getting married and Lilly and Dan have to find a way at least pretend to be civil for their daughter’s sake. What once was hate turns back in lust between Dan and Lilly. Molly freaks out and hires a paparazzi (Danny Nucci) to find her parents.

This movie is interesting. The narrative goes beyond the standard romantic comedy. Still it is a little predictable, even for a genre built on predictability. Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Flashback Friday-Houseboat (1958)

Parenthood, especially single parenthood is never easy.

In the 1958 movie, Houseboat, Tom (Cary Grant) is a single father doing his best to raise his children after the death of his wife. Cinzia (Sophia Loren) has left the comfortable life and her overprotective father for a life of freedom and independence. She agrees to work for Tom, but as expected, things go, well not as expected.

The narrative is almost like The Sound Of Music, but downgraded. Despite the notable names of Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, the film is merely ok. The only thing that stands out in regards to Houseboat is the off-screen drama. Cary Grant was married at the time to Betsy Drake (who wrote the original screenplay and hoped to star opposite her husband). Infatuated with his co-star and having an affair with her, Grant had the screenplay altered, taking the screenwriting credit away from his wife and cast Loren instead of Drake in hopes of continuing the affair. While there was a happy ending on-screen, the ending off-screen was different. Loren returned to Italy and to the man who would become her husband, Carlo Ponti.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Review, Movies

Throwback Thursday-Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

The Vietnam War was one of the most brutal and controversial wars in recent memory.

In 1987’s Good Morning Vietnam, it is 1965. Adrian Cronauer (the late and sorely missed Robin Williams) is a Airman and a radio DJ sent to Vietnam to entertain the troops and bring some reminder of home. His unorthodox personality and on air persona does not go over well with some of the military higher-ups on the base. Though he is not on the front lines, he will experience the war in a very real and raw manner.

What strikes me about this movie is that while it is very funny at points, it is very dark and hard to watch at other points. The brutality and destruction that war brings is not lost on either the audience or Adrian.

I absolutely recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Desperate times often calls for desperate measures. The questions are, what are we willing to give up in the process and how does that process change us?

In the new movie, Lady Macbeth (which has no connection to William Shakespeare character other than the title of the film), Katherine (Florence Pugh) is a young woman sold in the name of marriage to an older man. Forbidden from doing much of anything, Katherine is left alone with only her servants for company while her husband and father in law go out into the world. She starts sleeping with Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), one of her husband’s groomsman. The affair quickly becomes an affair of the heart. But things get messy when her husband and father in law return home. Katherine and Sebastian try to clean up the mess they have created. But the more they try to clean it up, the messier it becomes.

The best way to describe this film is that it is a hybrid of the psychology of an Alfred Hitchcock film with the imagery and narrative of a Wuthering Heights adaptation. It also speaks truth to power about what a woman will do when she has no direct power and must use other means to get what she wants. The three things that stand out for me are a) the diverse cast b) the lack of music and how background sounds play a role in telling the story and c) how I felt as an audience member when the film was done. I disliked Katherine for her actions, but in understanding her motivation, it made for a very well done film.

I absolutely recommend it.

Lady Macbeth is presently in theaters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Emily Bronte, Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, William Shakespeare, Wuthering Heights