Emma Stone

Superbad

Year: 2007
Directed By: Greg Mottola
Written By: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a really funny movie and I enjoy it every time I sit down to it. This recounting of the good old days for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is hilarious. We all have those memories from our youth that have formed into legend and hats off to these guys for making a movie out of theirs.

This is just a great group of funny people brought together to be funny. I think the pairing of Jonah Hill and Michael Cera is great and they have terrific chemistry together. Rogen and Bill Hader are hilarious as the two cops. Last but not least is Christopher Mintz-Plasse making his film debut. I don’t think there are tons of roles out there waiting for this guy but he was awesome as McLovin. This is also Emma Stone’s film debut and how high her star has risen since. There are plenty of great performances in the background of this movie as well.

I’ve watched this movie a dozen times or more and I still find it funny. However I have little to nothing to say about it. Not inspiring lengthy commentary aside this movie is still worth your time. It’s a very funny movie and I don’t usually recommend it because everybody I know has usually already seen it. It’s immature and over the top but it’s a lot of fun.

NEXT MOVIE: Superman (1978)

 

 

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Crazy, Stupid, Love

Year: 2011
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Written By: Dan Fogelman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I never wanted to watch but simply couldn’t deny that it was good. It covers a topic that I usually steer clear from because it hits too close to home. In this case however I actually think the content is conveyed in an incredibly lighthearted and funny way. When a movie about something I don’t like to watch with actors I don’t particularly care for somehow overcomes all odds and impresses me I feel like I owe it a place in the collection. So one night I found myself up late and allowed Amazon Prime to wear me down with several recommendations and this was one of them.

There are some movies I steer clear of specifically because of content. I can’t stand movies about junkies, I don’t like movies about or involving rape, and I don’t like movies about divorce and affairs. The first two are just things I just don’t care to see because they only make ugly and awful stories. When it comes to divorce and affair it’s just something I, like so many others in my generation, had to suffer through in a time when kids got forgotten and parents simply didn’t know what to do. That’s not how it looks in this movie though as the kids are strong minded and the cuckolded father finds a new energy in life. It’s inspiring and endearing all at the same time. I can’t stand Ryan Gosling, but he is pretty damn cool in this movie and how he coaches the old dog to learn new tricks is awesome.

I typically feel like Steve Carell is too typical and simply redoing his 40 Year Old Virgin/Michael Scott character but that’s not the case in this film. It’s probably time to evaluate that opinion again as he has now undoubtedly moved on from those roles. In this movie he plays such a down to earth guy in an honest situation like any typical guy might find himself in. It is awesome to see him make his transition from middle aged dad to confident ladies man with the help of an unreasonably cool new friend. To see him become cool again gives hope to any person who finds himself in a similarly unfortunate situation in life.

Emma Stone is such a delightful actress and she makes everything she is in better. She brings the greatest element of surprise to this movie and her role comes together in a great and hilarious scene.  As the adult daughter of Steve Carell and Julianne Moore she brings the movie full circle by connecting all the characters. Stone is an actress that shocks me each and every time I see her on screen by being so much better than I expect her to be. She is very funny and very talented as an actress. She has the privilege of working alongside another great in this movie. I have never been the biggest fan of Julianne Moore either but for the life of me I don’t know why. She is a fantastic actress whose star continues to shine brighter with every new performance.

For me, this movie captures love as it actually is. Crazy and stupid. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but the heart wants what the hearts wants. Love can cause more pain than anyone can imagine but can also inspire forgiveness and understanding in a way that we can’t anticipate. Love can confuse and frustrate us, but that is the nature of it. It is an emotion with a mind of it’s own. Some people will never figure that out and are doomed to a lifetime of befuddlement when it comes to dealing with personal relationships. I appreciate and respect love because I recognize it as something that is beyond our understanding. With love the why never matters but all that needs be considered is what “is.” The only hope you can have is that the love is mutual and not one sided. There is no reasoning with love and no denying it. It is an emotion that can build or destroy us. It is a mystery that brings intrigue or disaster to lives all across the world. It has an energy all on its own and it is different for all of us. I can say with true honesty that the only reason I understand love is because I was lucky enough to find it with Amber. It can be crazy and it can be stupid, but it is what it is and my love for her is what makes my life whole.

When it comes to people I don’t think you should ever expect much. In my experience people will follow their own mindset regardless how reasonably you try to persuade them to a more practical mindset. I don’t think you should ever expect any one person to change but be wise enough to recognize it if it actually happens. People can change, but it isn’t something that happens easily. It’s far easier for a bad person to weasel themselves back into a relationship on the pretext of change that is only temporary. That isn’t real love. Real love is the crazy, stupid madness that engulfs a person and makes them capable of doing what they were never able to do before. It’s a sad reality that in plenty of relationships only one person feels true love and that person is doomed to suffer in wanting for something that they can never hope to actually have. Real love does happen though, and it does exist. I hate to admit it but I love this movie about people who are truly in love.

Amber and I watched this today simply as a means to checking it off the to do list and getting another review in the bank. What I didn’t expect was how much the movie would actually get to me. I didn’t expect when we started it that I would love it when we were finished. I had my same stubborn preconceived ideas about this movie before we watched it again but it won me over again despite that. To me that makes it a great film. I think this movie does an excellent job of really capturing what love is and it does it in a fun and funny way. That makes this movie worth your time and I hope you give it a chance.

Final notes on this film. I think John Carroll Lynch is awesome in everything he is in. In a supporting role he brings a lot to this movie. I don’t like the part that Kevin Bacon plays but this movie offers another great chance at getting through a game of “six degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Also, Marisa Tomei is always delightful and beautiful despite age. My father met her once during a premier of Only You at the Uptown Theater in Washington D.C. when he was manager there. She came out of the theater at one point during the viewing and shared a cigarette with him in the lobby. He said she was a really nice person and easy to talk to.

The Help

Year: 2011
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Written By: Tate Taylor (screenplay) and Kathryn Stockett

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a great movie and I can see that, but this movie makes me sad more than anything else. The world is full of hypocrites; of hateful, judgmental, and ignorant people who live to hurt others. Movies like this are good at reminding us that they are out there.  We don’t need a movie to do that though.  These people didn’t just live in the 60s; they have lived and thrived among us for the 50+ years since. Every single day there are people all over the place reminding us how awful people can be; it’s an unfortunate reality of life. This movie is sad, it’s about the hate that has existed among us and about how mean people can be. I am not a fan of this movie because I am not a fan of the mood it has put me in. I respect the story that it is telling and hope that it reaches the closed minded people of the world.  I was reached by another movie with a similar theme though, and everything else after I have just found depressing instead of moving.

This movie might not move me but it has the potential to move so many people and that makes it important. I sincerely hope that each and every other person that watches this movie learns a serious and important lesson. There is nothing good about hate, about judging another person based on the race, gender, or sexual preference. I do my best in life to never be that way and I personally hate reminders about how others choose to be.  This movie is really sad, and I never enjoy watching it.  Amber read the book, and although I respect everything my wife loves I do not enjoy this movie as she does. I don’t know all the back story that she does though and would probably feel differently if I had read the book.

Another reason I do not like this movie is because I love Bryce Dallas Howard and in this one she plays one of the most awful women I have ever seen in a movie.  These women are out there, we all know one or two.  I just hate seeing an actress I am so fond of play such a despicable character. Bryce Dallas Howard of course is the daughter of the great filmmaker and once actor Ron Howard.  I like her not only because of that but because of some of her performances in other movies.  I thought she was incredible in The Village and Lady in the Water although I might be one of the few that actually loved both of those movies.  Hilly Holbrook is a woman full of hate and arrogance.  There is absolutely nothing to like about her and that is not Bryce Dallas Howard’s fault, I just wish someone else had played the part.  I would feel much better hating a character that is supposed to be hated if she was played by someone I didn’t like.

Emma Stone is great in this movie.  I was not her biggest fan a few years ago when she burst onto the scene but I have come around. She is a great actress that shows very good versatility and her career seems to get more distinguished every year. One ironic tidbit in relation to her and this movie is that both she and Bryce Dallas Howard have now played the same character, Gwen Stacy, in different Spiderman movies. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are both fantastic in this movie as well but I fear they won’t have many other opportunities to shine like they did in this one.  I hope that I am wrong about this because I thought they were both great and would love to see them again.  Octavia Spencer did win the Academy Award for her part so that should open up many opportunities for her.  I just don’t see her fitting into many other roles as well as she fit into this one.

I see this as a movie about women made for women.  There are very few men in the movie at all and none with an extensive part.  I may see this as a movie for women but I still think it is a movie EVERYONE should see because we all need to learn the lessons that are offered from a film like this.  We all need to see how destructive and uncalled for hate and racism are.  Our country has come a long way since the sixties but it hasn’t come far enough if you ask me.  Racism is still rampant in this country and more often than not leaders on all sides make things worse as opposed to better. This country will never be able to be great again until we learn to be better as people.  We have to be able to work together, we have to be able to treat each other like human beings, and we need to quit with all the hate.  I don’t think this will ever happen, but the world would be a better place.  People of different races and sexual preferences are no less human than the person judging them but some people are too close minded to see the reality of that.  These types of people will always be around, and they will always find someone to put into power that will validate their beliefs.

I don’t like this movie or movies like it because they hurt me.  I feel an uncomfortable feeling in my gut every time I watch a movie like this because racism bothers me so badly.  That isn’t a feeling I like to endure and no matter how good a movie might be I find it hard to like when it makes me recognize the ugly realities of human nature.  This movie is worth your time though, despite the bad feelings while watching it now I have still found myself sucked into the story.  It is a good story, and one everybody out there can learn from.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I really like this movie. It is one of my favorite book-to-film adaptations. I think that all of the actors in the movie were perfectly cast. They played their parts perfectly and looked amazing in the costumes of the era. The book was truly amazing and moving. It made me think about how we all have treated each other over the centuries, and like Ryan, it always makes me sad.

It reminds me that we are still fighting for simple civil rights. I grew up in the South. My great grandparents had African American “help.” After reading this book, I talked to my grandma about it. I never once remember ever hearing my family (my mom’s or my dad’s sides of the family) speak in a derogatory way of anyone from that culture. I grew up not even knowing their was ever a difference. My grandma said that she remembered her maid and that she was like family. Their families spent Christmas together and everything. This made me so proud of my grandma and my family before me. I get to claim to be a part of the lucky ones. There is still so much racism and prejudice out there and it is sickening. I wish everyone could just go about their own lives and leave others to theirs.

The book isn’t based on real-life events. All of it is fictional, and even knowing that it is still heartwarming and enlightening. I totally recommend both the book and the movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Helter Skelter (2004)

The Amazing Spiderman

I will start by saying that I really did enjoy this film and there is plenty to like about it.  However, at the same time there are plenty of fundamental problems with it and I think the original was the better film.  I have been following the development of this movie for some time and had mixed feeling throughout.  My opinion of the movie swayed into its favor when the previews began coming because it did look awesome.  When we went to see it today I tried to approach it with an open mind and surprisingly walked away both delighted and disappointed.

I think the biggest problem with this film is that it was too much too soon.  A reboot wasn’t necessary for the highest grossing franchise of all time and I was really interested in everything I was reading about Spiderman 4.  All the main people had come back; they had John Malkovich in talks to play the villain, presumably the Vulture.  It all seemed gravy until suddenly the whole thing came crashing down like a house of cards.  The studio pulled the plug and decided to start from scratch. The problem had to do with the studio forcing the hand of Sam Raimi if I remember correctly. The reboot had worked in spades with the Batman franchise so why not try it with Spiderman?  Well the problem is an origin story for Spiderman had already been done and everyone loved it.  With Batman they had never done that.  Tim Burton’s Batman started with Bruce Wayne already doing his thing as Batman so when they made Batman Begins  it was a new and fresh idea.  For those of us that already loved the first Spiderman franchise it is nearly impossible to sit through a movie like this without comparing and contrasting.  This wasn’t a bad movie but it was an inappropriate movie, and I think its box office results reflect that because it has been a big disappointment.

Excuse this quick tangent about box office statistics but it is a hobby of mine.  This movie, as far as I’m concerned, bombed despite netting $140 million in its opening week ($140 was the estimate I remember and not the actual number).  That may be a lot of money, but it was not enough.  Not only did it fail to outmatch any of its predecessors but it had an entire holiday week and it couldn’t even come close to what The Avengers did in only three days. I think by and large these kinds of results prove that it was a horrible decision to reboot this very successful franchise.  As I said before though, this box office performance does not reflect the value of the movie, I did enjoy it.

This movie may not be as good as the original but it doesn’t have to be.  It is a completely different retelling and had to do things differently to set it apart from the others.  I think the story would have been considerably better if we didn’t revisit his origin story.  Had the movie started with him already into his Spiderman adventure as a teenager and the origin simply been conveyed through flashbacks I think the story would have been much better.  Andrew Garfield did a great job and I really like his different approach to the character.  I have to go with Tobey Maguire being a better fit though and I’ll explain why.  Tobey is just so much more the hopeless loser and that is what Peter Parker really was. Garfield is much too hipster cool to be considered a lonely loser.  Skateboarding in his free time and getting the attention of hot girls by standing up to bullies isn’t the Peter I remember. I liked Garfield a lot though; he really captured the witty aspect of the Spiderman character. Although he does come across as a douche from time to time.

Emma Stone looked incredible in those knee high stockings she kept wearing.  When she is the unlikely 17 year old high school girl high up in a mega company I thought it was really interesting how she had the shortest lab coat in the room.  Stone has been building a great career and I think she was a really bright spot in this movie.  Rhys Ifans was great as the Dr. Curt Connors but I think his descent into madness was a bit too quick.  I thought Martin Sheen was great as Uncle Ben but his part was much too large.  I think the movie was a little heavy on the sentimental moments at times. I think Sally Field is great but I have to say she is miscast in this movie and underutilized to boot.  She just doesn’t look the part, and she should when following in the footsteps of Rosemary Parker. I think Denis Leary brought a lot to the movie; I grew to love him during his time on Rescue Me and just like seeing him in something now. Especially when he plays such an endearing character.  As Captain Stacy he showed good judgment and heroism in the face of danger.

I don’t think this movie was “Amazing” but I did like it and would recommend anybody on the fence give it a shot.  I think the movie will really relate to younger generations and serve in bonding them to the character.  That’s a smart move too. Spiderman will live on forever no matter what happens because he is awesome but it can’t hurt to get proactive in making teenagers today love him. I don’t love this movie but I don’t regret taking my time to see it either.  Personally, part of me hopes this movie fails miserably so studios get a message about why it is a bad idea to jump right into a reboot.  I am really afraid that Warner Bros will immediately reboot the Batman franchise before the dust settles on The Dark Knight.  In fact I have already heard talk of that happening and that they already have an actor in mind to play the part.  It was Ryan Reynolds specifically, which has to be simply a rumor because that would be the biggest mistake of all time, he is already the Green Lantern and not so great at that.