Tuesday, December 30, 2008

extremely random movie thoughts, and by the way - Happy New Year!

When I wrote about the Emmys a while back, I was sort of put out with Hollywood because I felt disdained by them - what with having voted conservative, um, ever. That post started quite the little discussion. But one friend didn't comment at all - although she wanted to write something to the effect of, "Ah, Serenity is growing up!" because I was able to see anything other than red carpets and rosiness in my beloved Hollywood. Well, it's been too long since I wrote about Hollywood now, and I don't want anyone to wonder if I've grown up any further - because I haven't - so I thought it was time. Consider this a huge catch-up version of "Movie Reviews From My Cabinet at Home." In this case: A glimpse at some of the movies, new and (80s) classic, I can't get enough of this Christmas vacation holiday. Now remember, we're kids. I mean, um, we have kids. So it's not like any of these were nominated for best picture. They just get us, okay?

First up, Kung Fu Panda. First, I love the Asian themes. Love them. When I watched The Last Samuri I suddenly wanted to clean my house. Just clean it, remove 90 percent of the stuff from it, and hang black-framed pictures of lone white lillies. Besides the Eastern inspiration that makes us want to cleanse our universe/cleanse our souls, Kung Fu Panda is freaking hilarious. We never laughed so hard in our lives - out loud in a movie theater - as we did watching Jack Black as an overweight Kung Fu trainee with a heart of gold. So. Funny. Plus, I now figure there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there's a secret ingredient and those who don't.

Freaky Friday. The Oscars are so pretentious, aren't they? Because if they weren't, they never would have overlooked Jamie Lee Curtis's performance as a teenager trapped in her mother's body in this hilarious version of what was already a pretty great concept. Lindsay Lohan actually does beautifully as her mother as well, but Jamie Lee Curtis slays me. When the teenager-trapped-in-mom's-body tries to read something and has to trombone it, Curtis says "Whoa, she's blind!" in one of the funniest line deliveries ever, and that's just one of the many scenes in this movie that she completely nails. I actually believe there's a teenager in there. Believe it. And this realistic acting makes it all the more poignant when they whip out the schmaltz and actually make me cry. It's a great movie about understanding each other. Period.

The Three Musketeers. I credit this movie for some of my downfall into a total adoration for the art of movie-making. It has everything - romance, great clothes and hair, heroes, sacrifice, brotherhood, and humor. I love the gentle queen who loved the timid king to whom her marriage was arranged. I love how fiercly the musketeers believe in their duty to protect that king. And the line, "Come, Dartagnon, we're saving the king!" was as critical to our family's movie-quoting history as "Goodbye, Boys, have fun storming the castle." Major Nickerson nostalgia in this film, and I'm so glad we own it now.

Honey I Shrunk the Kids. I have no philosophical goodness to bring out from this movie. No one single thing. We own it because I got it for about 4 dollars, and I loved it as a kid. But seriously, when I subjected my children to it the other day, I still sat RIVETED by those four, poor, quarter-inch children trying to cross the massive jungle that used to be simply their back yard. I couldn't wait for the humungous oatmeal cream pie and the part where they sleep in a Lego. It's just good, clean fun.

Ratatouille. If you're sensing a Disney obsession here, that's because I'm in the DVD club. And incidentally, I adore the movie montage before Disney movies now where they play the fantastic score from Kevin Kostner's Robin Hood. It gets my Hollywood eyes all starry. And Ratatouille is just so cute and culinary. It doesn't exactly make me want to be a cook, but it makes me appreciate them very, very much. I'm so glad some people cared to turn our plain animal instict to eat things into an actual art. If there were only people like me in the world, ingredients would never have come together properly. Heck, we probably never would have peeled a banana.

Hancock. We don't own this one, and we've only seen it once - but it was fairly recently. Will Smith is in it, which is a clincher for this fam. And he plays a really arrogant super power whose publicist (Jason Bateman . . . I think I still have a poster of you around here somewhere) convinces him to just look people in the eye now and then and tell them, "Good job." Oh my goodness, do we like to deliver that line around here. Plus, I love the idea of a reluctant superhero and the way he is transformed basically by one man's belief that he can better himself, a little boy's unfettered admiration of him, and the choice to love selflessly.

Now, can anyone tell me which of these movies I should rush to see (or perhaps away from) currently in theaters? Because I think I want to see them all: Benjamin Button, Marley & Me (I already know - bring a box of Kleenex and try not to have ever actually loved any of your pets), Seven Pounds, Bedtime Stories, Valkyrie. Also, I got a couple months of free Netflix for Christmas, so prepare for another rash of brief, completely unhelpful movie reviews soon. Up first is Hairspray, and I hear Ghost Town is awesome.

photo credit:  basha04 on Flickr


Molly said...

I totally want to see Ghost Town too! And we loved Marley & Me, though way more for the human interaction than the animal.

Another movie that I think you would LOVE if you haven't seen it Seren, is Dan in Real Life. It stars Steve Carrell, whom you may know from The Office, Evan Almighty, etc, but this is a dramatic comedy. He nails it, I mean really nails it. It will make you laugh, cry, and think. I love every character in this movie, and that is unusual for me.

Molly said...

Oh YEAH, and I think the same thing every time I see Freaky Friday!

Cheri' said...

I love your reviews and the movies you picked! We just took Jesse to see Bedtime Stories! Loved it! Funny, big, colorful, a little romance, a little intrigue, and a happily ever after, hero-ish ending! You'll love it.

And Molly's right. I'm planning on buying Dan in Real Life one of these days! It's great!

Keep those reviews coming!

Felicity said...

"Think they'll make it?"

"Not a chance!"


And, Three Musketeers? I forgot how awesome that movie is!

Someone should pay you to write these reviews.

Anonymous said...

Okay this clenches it, I've got to see Dan In Real Life. Mom kept telling me to see it, and now I will. I loved your reviews, can you believe I havent ever seen Kung Fu Panda? adding that to the list too. My ever growing list.....I like knowing it's there, boredom should never set in right?
Merry New Year! (which actually is a movie quote....of course it is)

Widney Woman said...

We loved Kung Fu Panda. It was the first and only movie that captured Little Miss P's full attention and kept it throughout the movie - in the theatre. We had high hopes for Wall-E but were sadly disappointed.

Freaky Friday was fabulous!! The critics are idiots. They are probably lobbied because the good movies get trashed and the stupid movies get accolades.

Happy New Year!!

Tracy said...

Our family almost NEVER has a conversation without movie quotes being thrown in. One of Jenelle's friends said they can never quite catch the transition from when we're having a conversation to when we begin quoting the movies!

We saw Marley & Me and we ALL loved it! Even Jenelle who isn't such a dog lover. Great lines, great story! You MUST see it!

Kathy said...

To Felic: What that quote says about us is that we are flagrant optomists who will try to scale any wall and take on any enemy if we believe honor and true love are at stake :)

I love how these movie quotes actually evoke a memory in us of a moment when something clicked in our souls and made us want to be better people, defeat injustice, love more deeply, laugh more frequently, and connect with humanity (and our dogs.)

serenity said...

Dan in Real Life, YES. One of the most refreshing movies we'd seen in a long time. And I'm so thankful for the theater recommendations too! And Mom totally nailed what I love most about movies.

Kelly Hoeckelberg-Young said...

Our household LOVES Ratatouille too ... just the music soundtrack is enough to lure me in!! I want to see Marley & Me ... I've heard the same thing ... bring the tissues. And, I've heard Bedtime Stories is good ... haven't seen it myself, but heard it from a very reliable source! Hope your New Year is starting off well!

AmyB. said...

I really liked Hairspray. A bit sensual with the dance moves to let my kids watch it, but I let them watch parts and afterwards I started listening to 50's music all the time and dancing with the kids. So much fun!!

Den said...

Of your considered films I've only seen Seven Pounds. I can report that it is really sad pretty much throughout the film. I was impressed by this in a film featuring Will Smith by a Hollywood director. It seemed a times a bit cliche and predictable. That said, I do think I like the film but you might need the heads up that it is very truly sad. I'd say more if it didn't risk ruining it.

Since that is my only direct experience, I'll add that I want to see Benjamin Button. I think it looks interesting, but I also like looking at Brad Pitt (not in a "oh, isn't he dreamy" way just in a what an interesting expressive face he has). I think Meet Joe Black probably was much improved by his face. That said, I also think he is a fine actor. We just watched Burn After Reading which was the oddest role I've seen him in, and he did well. Since Cate Blanchett is another of my favorite actors, I'm planning to see it if I make it to the theater for anything out right now. I watched Seven Pounds with my Dad so that I could save this one to watch with Andrea. Caveat lector: I generally like dramatic, sad, ambiguous, challenging movies. So, your aims in attending a movie might on a given day be different than mine and so my advice of somewhat limited value.

Valkyrie I can't imagine getting without laughing. It may be a fine film, but Tom Cruise as a heroic Nazi strikes me as all wrong on several levels.

Bedtime Stories looks somewhat appealing, but I have found myself frequently disappointed with Adam Sandler films. I don't know much about this in particular.

I've heard the dog is nice to watch in Marley and Me.

serenity said...

Den, I like looking at Brad Pitt too, and he's an original Missouri boy so I choose to feel connected in some way to him. I'm not a big Adam Sandler fan either. Bedtime Stories was okay though. And when it comes to Tom Cruise, you sound like Michael. He (Cruise) hasn't managed to alienate me as a fan yet though. I still enjoy him in films usually. I respect him in some ways. Or, I think on some level I understand him, which makes me gracious toward his antics.

Den said...

I can handle his antics well enough in a Mission Impossible sort of setting, I think the idea of Valkyrie would be a bit over the top anyway, and Cruise does not help that. I'm glad you found something to see.

Sarah said...

I saw Valkyrie and liked it. I was a little skeptical about Cruise as well, but the story was so interesting that I forgot it was hime that I was watching. The acting is good, but the story riveting. I knew how it would turn out because I knew Hilter was not assasinated, but I still couldn't help but route for Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. I sure did walk away thinking, "Man, if only it would have worked."

Den said...

I can confirm that Ghost Town is quite funny. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.