Glenn Close

The Stepford Wives

Year: 2004
Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Ira Levin (book), Paul Rudnick (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This film has sat on our shelf for over ten years and I don’t think I have watched it since we were in college. The film made it into the collection as a gift for Amber on some anniversary or holiday along the way. We’re only minutes into the movie now and I’m already wondering what I was thinking. We own so many movies that there’s bound to be a dud here and there and we’ve stumbled across one it seems. I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation for why it’s part of our collection but that memory has been lost along the way.

In one of the very first scenes the dialogue was clearly changed because it doesn’t match up with the lips of the actors. That’s frustrating but it was the plight of this movie. It’s one that’s been disowned by everybody involved including several actors and even the director. Not only did things not go well during filming but it suffered greatly in post production as several things were changed and some even re shot altogether. I have never seen the original film but perhaps I should seek it out now because I do like the idea behind this movie. It won’t be the first mistake I have made watching a remake of something that was much better before.

I’m thinking specifically of The Manchurian Candidate. Coincidentally that very film was advertised on this DVD. I learned a lesson when I watched the original and the very same thing could happen here. I’d really like to test that out but I don’t think it’s going to happen. A quick search shows the original film must be out of print because the DVD cost almost $70. That’s outrageous and I don’t want to see it that bad just to test out a theory. I can settle for the book but I’d have to invest too much time and I’m not really that interested.

Glenn Close is a gem and it’s sad to see her talent wasted in a movie like this. She so exaggerated in the scene where they are “working out” that you can’t help but laugh. She’s just so deftly delightful and her hand motions are fantastic. She shines in this film where everyone else is cloudy.

I have never been a big fan of Nicole Kidman but I do respect her talent. I can’t say that it’s on display in this movie though, her heart clearly wasn’t in it. I like Ferris Bueller as much as everyone else but there is rarely ever a role when I think ‘Matthew Broderick would have been great for this.’ On the other hand I can’t imagine a performance given by Christopher Walken that isn’t awesome but he’s just going through the motions in this movie and that’s a shame.

This movie was directed by Frank Oz and he has never really been a favorite of mine. He hasn’t gotten behind camera in ten years but still serves as the voice of Yoda when called upon. I don’t generally like his movies, however his final film Death at a Funeral was hilarious and needs to be added to the collection now that I think about it. Amber and I watched both the white and the black version of it years ago and enjoyed both.

Aside from Glenn Close, and that one awesome joke about Connecticut, there really isn’t much going on with this movie. It’s a really cool story but it wasn’t delivered properly at all. I wish I could watch the original to see how it measures up and maybe I’ll get that chance at some point. If anybody who has read the book is reading this let me know if it’s worth it and I’ll probably check it out. I can’t say this movie is actually worth your time to see though. It’s short and that’s a plus but even with a short running time it’s just not worth it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stir of Echoes (1999)

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

Year: 2014
Directed By: James Gunn
Written By: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out before I really understood and appreciated the scope of the MCU. I knew that all the comic book movies Marvel was making would eventually tie together and I thought they were all good. Yet when this movie came out I gave it a pass. I have been a comic book fan my whole life yet had never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The previews did nothing to encourage me as I distinctly remember wondering what was up with this movie. There was a talking racoon in it and this big tree thing that was voiced by none other than Vin Diesel. They had a WWE star in the cast! The fat guy from Parks and Rec was playing the lead. There was just no way this movie would amount to anything more than an experiment Marvel lost money on.

Well, I like to admit when I am wrong and from the very beginning of this movie I could instantly tell I was not only wrong about it but I was in store for something spectacular. Starlord dancing around during the opening credits is so engaging and fun. It instantly sets the tone for what turned out to be a really engaging and fun movie. That tone is also set by an awesome soundtrack that would top the charts for many weeks on end.

It turned out that fat guy from Parks and Rec lost a ton of weight and was kind of a hilarious badass in his own way. The talking racoon was not only not stupid but managed to steal the show. He is incredible and awesome in every single scene he is part of. Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot arguably showed more range than Vin Diesel as the actor in popular over explosive movies. I knew nothing about Dave Batista other than him being a WWE performer. Just when that seems like enough I see something like this that throws the whole world off balance.

I thought Dave Bautista was not just good in this movie but outstanding. He is so funny with his literal one liners and lack of understanding when it comes to metaphor or sarcasm. “Why would I run my finger across his throat?” He’s just so unexpectedly hilarious I absolutely cann0t wait for the sequel because I want more of this guy. I wrote him off for no other reason than the fact that he was a pro wrestler by trade and that seemed to be a gross miscalculation.

Chris Pratt blew up into a star following this movie and when you watch the movie it’s easy to see why. He is undeniably likable in this movie and brings a wit to the character that makes him hilarious. I really like Chris Pratt from his days on Parks and Rec where after a while I thought he was the only good thing about the show. I only refer to him as “the fat guy” because I have heard so many people describe him that way. I found it really impressive how he got himself in shape for the role. He did so on his own volition too which shows a lot of dedication to the character.

I can’t think of anything to say about Rocket other than he is just hands down awesome. His dialogue and delivery are so funny. He didn’t have time to work out the “minutia” of the plan, he called Stan Lee a “class A prevert,” and he got Starlord to take that prosthetic leg for his plan to escape the prison. He’s just so funny and I was thoroughly surprised by the character. He is so much more than simply funny as he is a tiny little badass that you just don’t see coming.

By saying no more than three words throughout the movie Vin Diesel actually managed to impress me. I have never been a big fan of the guy and don’t consider him to be a good actor. I can’t stand an actor that has to go over the top trying to be cool. If you have to try to be cool you are simply missing that element that makes it natural. In this film though, with his three words, it’s the coolest I think he has ever been.

Zoe Saldana seems to be part of every sci-fi franchise lately after significant parts in Avatar and the Star Trek franchise. In this movie she looks really good with green skin and I like her character quite a bit. She’s a beautiful woman but I feel like I would’t recognize her in anything else. She has over 40 acting credits but usually when I see her she is either CGI or in tons of make up.

Most of the characters in this movie are in a ton of make up or done by CGI but my favorite is Michael Rooker with that bright blue skin. I am a big fan of Michael Rooker going all the way back to Cliffhanger and before. I love his perception in this movie that Starlord owes him something because he stopped his people from eating him as a child. The arrow that he uses with his whistling is awesome and I can’t wait to see more of it in the sequel.

The rest of this cast is full of great actors in supporting roles. John C. Reilly is great in everything and he manages to be really funny in a small part. Glenn Close brings credibility as the leader of the Nova as does Benicio Del Toro as The Collector. My favorite supporting character is Korath played by Djimon Hounsou. He just looks so wicked in costume and I love the part of the film in which he called Quill Starlord and the response is a delighted “finally.”

I really liked the villains in this movie. Ronan was really wicked from the beginning with his dressing ceremony up to his disgust at Peter Quill dancing. Played by Lee Pace it is hard to recognize him at all in all the make-up but the make-up that hid him was excellent. He is a ruthless villain and thus far one of the better villains in the MCU who haven’t really measured up in the villain department quite like they have in the hero. This movie also gives us our longest look at the coming big bad guy Thanos, played by Josh Brolin. He has merely a cameo in this movie but it offers us a good look at what is to come. I also liked Nebula with her jealous streak and ability to just bounce back into form robotically after being blasted by an explosion. Looks like she will be switching sides in the next film and it will be cool to see her kicking ass for the good guys.

I had never seen anything by Director James Gunn before but I will have an eye out for his work in the future. I think the script he wrote for this movie was just so incredibly funny. I am regularly impressed with the people Marvel finds to helm their movies because often I am unfamiliar with them. They manage to make it all work great though with fantastic continuity for the expanding cinematic universe. No matter who is at the helm all of these movies manage to feel like they are on the same page. It’s an impressive thing and evidence of the genius behind Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige.

I think I have rambled on sufficiently for this movie but I could never say enough about how much I enjoy this movie. I love when I have low expectations of something and it manages to blow me away. If you have preconceived notions about this movie I understand, but I sincerely encourage you to give it a chance and find out as I did how great it is and what you are missing. This movie isn’t just worth your time but worth plenty of your time as it gets better with multiple viewings.

 

 

The Chumscrubber

Year: 2005
Directed By: Arie Posin
Written By: Arie Posin

RYAN’S REVIEW

If you are asking yourself “what the hell is The Chumscrubber?” then I will join you.  I find myself wondering that exact same thing sometimes when I grab a neighboring movie off the rack.  This movie has survived on our shelf for years since it came out on DVD and I’m remembering why all over again now that we are watching it. This movie was recommended to us by a friend in college and we were both caught off guard when we really liked it. I can sometimes be too snobbish when it comes to movies and I rarely give these kind of B movies the time of day.  There are things I don’t like about this movie but enough things that I can relate to and appreciate that I felt compelled to own it after seeing it.

I have never been a fan of abusing prescription pills.  They will eat away at your brain and steal your soul.  Most of my experiences with them in the past have been bad and I have personally watched people get lost in the haze created by that crap.  I wish this movie had been about a different drug because I can understand and relate to the escape drugs offer during the vulnerable teenage years, but I think pills are too dangerous.  What I’m saying is if the movie had been about a simple recreational party drug I would feel more comfortable.  Prescription pills, the ones in this movie anyway, are the kind of drug that affect your emotions and change who you are. They aren’t to be toyed with or taken for granted because you can’t control them.  You might think you can but before you know it they are controlling you and you don’t even realize it.

I like the message this movie sends about the dangers of irresponsible parenting though.  This Alpha Dog-like scenario is only possible because of the inattention of the parents. The kids even continually tell their parents that they have kidnapped this kid but they don’t take them seriously and the situation progresses.  This movie highlights a serious problem in our society today because far too many parents fail to understand or pay any attention to their children.  I have mentioned before that I like to learn whatever I can from anything that I can and this movie teaches me valuable lessons about parenting.  If you fail to pay attention to your kids there are dangerous consequences, but it takes more than just attention.  You have to make a concentrated effort to understand them and support them.  These are challenges I face in the future with two girls, and I’m glad I have movies like this to remind me how important it is that I do things right.  As difficult as it might be, as parents we have to remember to put our children first.  It’s easy to get absorbed in out own problems, we are all human, but when that happens it is our children who suffer. Our children are growing, they are developing their personalities and establishing identities of their own. If we as parents ignore who they are becoming then we are equally as responsible when they turn out to have made the completely wrong choices and turned into monsters.  We can’t trust them to make the right choices because they don’t know things as we do.  Some children are better than others in making their own decisions, but when it comes to that it’s all about knowing your child again.  Understanding them well enough to know what they can and can’t handle can allow us to use the appropriate discretion when raising them, and those decisions have to be handled carefully in a well thought out manner. Parenting is no joke, it’s hard as hell and you can’t afford to screw it up because the consequences are too great.  Let’s take a lesson from The Chumscrubber, when we fail to do our part and start ignoring them, our children start getting high on pills, committing suicide, or kidnapping and stabbing each other.

I usually write an entire paragraph all about the cast of every movie but I’m really not in the mood to do that right now.  This movie has a big ensemble cast that is worth mention but I don’t want to go into all of them, there are bigger names and smaller names but they all do their job well.  I must mention Glenn Close not only because she is awesome but because I am a big fan of her work both on The Shield and Damages. I have never heard of Arie Posin and he seems to be a one hit wonder but he made a great movie too many people didn’t see.  I have always felt that movies were better and more personal when the director also wrote the script.  This is a good example of what I have in mind when I say that.

Now that we near the end of this movie that we haven’t watched in so long I am not only reminded of why we bought it but I am proud to own it.  It has truly been too long since I have seen this movie and I will have to make it a point not to wait so long before seeing it again. This is a great movie that gives the viewer a lot to think about. I think you should definitely check this movie out because it is worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I agree with everything Ryan said above. This film really is a hit at suburban American parents. They aren’t paying attention to what their children are doing, they are just too consumed with their own lives.

This movie revolves around the selling of drugs to high school kids. Most of the kids are taking prescription drugs.The ironic thing is, while the kids are the ones abusing the drugs, the adults in the film are probably the ones that should actually be taking the medications. They are all fucked up in their own way. I want to learn from this movie. I do not want to fall through the cracks and be absent-minded when it comes to my daughters, like the parents in this film.

I know Ryan mentioned Glenn Close being in this film, so I thought I would go on and mention some of the other cast-members. Jamie Bell is the main character, the one the story really revolves around. You may have seen him in King Kong (the newer one, obviously) and Billy Elliot. Camilla Belle plays the cute, popular high school girl. You may have seen her in 10,000 BC or When A Stranger Calls. William Fichtner is also in this film and plays the psychiatrist parent of Jamie Bell. He is a very well-known guy and has been in films like The Dark KnightArmageddon, and Crash. The last one I will mention is John Heard, who plays Officer Bratley. If you don’t know, he was the dad in Home Alone. Need I say more?

This film is well worth your time, and isn’t known by that many people. If you do watch it, feel free to chime in down in the comments and let us know what you think about it.

NEXT MOVIE: Cinderella Man (2005)