Film Review “Happy Death Day”

Directed by: Christopher B. Landon
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 96 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I was simply sold on “Happy Death Day” from the moment I heard it pitched as “Groundhog Dog” but horror film. Sign me up! So instead of meeting ole Punxsutawney Phil and seeing if he sees his shadow every day. Our heroine, Tree (Jessica Rothe), as she wakes up to birthday only to gets killed and wakes up and repeats the same day over and over.

While she is trying to find out who the killer is the film looses so steam as the false alarms because a little predictable but overall. It was still fun to see how each day would be different. Even though not horror, this reminded me of the action-comedy “Edge of Tomorrow”, which also had that “Groundhog Day” feel. “Happy Death Day” even though rated PG-13 packs pretty creative kills during each repeated day.

2017 has been the year of Woman power with breakout films like, “Wonder Woman” and this film fit the mold nicely, it features a strong lead female character that can kick some serious ass. This film is a fun blend of horror with some great comedic moments mixed in. Definitely a lot of fun and got some great laughs in the audience, so it was definitely pleasing everyone.

If you are not familiar with the lead actress, Jessica Rothe, it is not surprising because she is only just getting started after a very small role in last year’s “La La Land”. What interesting is that out of all the anxilary extra characters in that film she honestly stood out to me, so I am excited that hopefully this film will be her big break.

Based on the audience reaction in the theater, I have a feeling that this film will end up connecting with an audience. If so, I can see this being a new franchise of sorts, definitely a lot of fun options. So those looking for some mindless fun and not excited for yet another “Saw” entry, I would definitely give “Happy Death Day” a shot!

Looking for a film with a happy ending? Go with sport!

One of the main factors that attract so many of us to sports films is that they usually have a happy ending.

While the sporting action itself can often be hit-and-miss, more often than not, the good guy succeeds and the right team lift the trophy.

From the classic sporting pictures such as Chariots of Fire to the more modern efforts like Draft Day, we’re taken on a journey that usually sees the star overcome some type of turmoil on the way to a triumphant victory.

The actors playing the roles might not always get it spot on in terms of replicating those sporting superstars they are portraying, but these films are about so much more than picking apart Adam Sandler’s back-swing or Matt Damon’s mauling technique.

Let’s have a look at some classic sports films in which the recurring theme of success appears.

Rocky: When it comes to sporting movies, you have to really begin with Rocky. Starting from humble beginnings on the mean streets of Philadelphia, our hero goes on a brutal journey to the heavyweight championship of the world. The series even recently spawned a seventh film in Creed. Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky Balboa not only made him a household name, it also played a huge part in boxing’s huge popularity throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. With Creed making waves with both the box office and the critics, we might not have seen the end of Rocky Balboa’s iconic cinematic career.

Rocky statue // Philadelphia” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by achimh

Moneyball: Covering the Oakland Athletics’ trials, tribulations and then success in the 2002 MLB season, Moneyball is another film that combines the drama involved in sport both on and off the field of play. Telling the story of general manager Billy Beane’s bid to assemble a team capable of mixing it with the best, Moneyball profiles a 2002 season in which the Athletics lost a host of star names and built a team of lesser known players that led the team to the American League West title in one of the most iconic seasons in the club’s history. With Oakland’s glory days now nothing but a distant memory, and the franchise priced as long as 66/1 with the likes of the Bet365 betting odds as of the end of January, this is a perfect trip down memory lane for those beleaguered Athletics fans.

Happy Gilmore: Hey, come on now, this is a *great* movie. OK, it’s a decent movie with some very funny bits. Adam Sandler plays Happy Gilmore, who is a short-fused good guy with a remarkable talent that makes the move from the brutal arena of ice hockey into the traditional and stuffy world of golf. Needing to raise money in order to save his Grandma’s home, our maverick hero wins the Tour Championship in frankly unbelievable scenes. He walks away with the title, the girl and the money. The legitimacy of Happy’s speedy journey from novice to champion might have more holes in it than the course at Augusta, but it doesn’t stop this from being a very enjoyable way to spend 92 minutes.

via GIPHY

Cory Stolberg discussing saving My Happy Place Comic Book Store

Cory Stolberg and Bill Hoeks are dreamers. As the managers of the My Happy Place Comic Book Store in Crystal Lake, Illinois, they’ve set out to give customers the same great experience they had when they were younger. In store giveaways, special guest appearances and the thrill that comes when you first open a new comic.

They recently started a Go Fund Me Page in hopes of raising enough money to turn My Happy Place into one of the premiere comic book stores in the Midwest. I recently chatted with Cory about his younger years, his passion and the dream he and Bill hope will come true.

Mike Smith: Can you give us some background on the store?
Cory Stolberg: We opened the store in January of this year and it is my first time running a comic book store. The current owner opened the store as a tribute to her youngest son, who was only 19 when he passed away three years ago from an unknown heart condition. He was a huge “Captain America” fan and had always told his mom, who had previously owned a used book store, that one day he was going to take it over and turn it into a comic book store. Bill and I have been helping and assisting since day one of this project. We’re involved in everything from planning and remodeling the location to moving inventory around. We also handle setting up the current floor plan and the ordering of merchandise. We try to host an event a month by having artists, writers and publishers in the store for free meet and greets. We hosted Free Comic Book Day back in May and just had another one on Halloween.

MS: Is it hard work?
CS: We have worked hard every single step of the way We have laid the ground work for where we want to see this store go and the owner has pretty much given us free range to do it and we have made it a success thus far. But the time frame to purchase the store was moved up, which is why we set up the Go Fund Me page. The people that have donated thus far are regulars at the store and they understand and see the big picture of what we want to accomplish. It is their passion and commitment to us that keeps our heads up.

MS: Give a little information about your Go Fund Me efforts.
CS: I started the Go Fund Me Page in late August and it has had a slow start. Since then, we have fielded quite a few questions. Everything from is the store closing to “what about my orders!” Our store is different from every other I have ever been in. Now granted I don’t get to travel the country and visit other stores, but compared to the many I have been to in Illinois, none of them have the energy we have, none of them greet the customers walking in the door by name, few are willing to go above and beyond to locate books for customers if they are not found in the store or on the Diamond Distributors page. We receive so many compliments from customers who quickly become friends. Because of our efforts they often become loyal to our shop with just one visit.

Our goal is $75,000, of which part will be used for updating and remodeling as discussed on the Go Fund Me Page. More inventory, some gaming, some updating, new racks and displays and a nest egg to help us for a bit. Any and all funds raised will go directly into the store. If we do not hit our goal, then ever dollar is returned to the donors. However, we believe that we can and will make this work, it is just a matter of keeping our heads up and staying the course.

MS: Why do you want to run a comic book store?
CS: For us this is dream. I have been reading and collecting comics on and off for almost 40 years. I dropped out in the 90’s, like many others, after the whole “Death of Superman” experience and the introduction of Spawn and Image Comics to the world. Over the years the writing has gotten better, the artwork is incredible and many of the story lines are just amazing. I personally prefer to read the independent books or smaller publishers, as I have outgrown the whole Super Hero thing. Plus, its near on impossible to go back and try to collect the back issues if you aren’t wealthy. For Bill and I this has been the most fun we have had working, ever. The customers are awesome, most of them are now friends and we get new ones weekly. Even though we know we will never get rich at this, this has been the most satisfying experience thus far in our lives. We are continuing to make friends with people in the industry who truly understand our dream and are helping where they can. We had artists at the New York Comic Con this weekend helping to promote our fundraising page and spreading the word about our dream. Everyone has to start somewhere. It took us many years to get our dream going but there is no letting up on it now.

MS: What is the big difference between your store and others?
CS: Bill and I have both been in positions over our work histories where we ended up working for some terrible employers and bosses. And we remember this every day as a way not to treat others. Customer service is a huge part of this business. You get one chance to make a first impression and you better make the most of it, because the customer can make you or break you in an instant. If you are having a bad day, the customer had better never know it. If the customer is having a bad day, you better do everything in your power to make it better for them. My Grandmother helped raise me and she instilled in me at a very young age that every single person you meet and have contact with each and every day, make them smile, no matter what, you have no idea what is going on in their lives at that moment and that one simple gesture, like a simple smile, could change their lives. Does that make us qualified to own a store? Who knows? But the customers love it and if they are happy, we are happy. As we say “Come find your Happy Place at My Happy Place Comics!”

To make a donation or to find out more information about the Go Fund Me campaign, click here https://www.gofundme.com/myhappyplace

DVD Review “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Tiger’s Happy Holidays”

Actors: Daniel Tiger and Friends
Directors: Fred Rogers Company
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: PBS (DIRECT)
DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
Run Time: 100 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I love the idea of the show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” because it really help kids learn a lot and is still alot of this. “Daniel Tiger’s Happy Holidays” includes 7 Grr-ific Tales! Snowflake Day! (a special holiday double episode); “Katerina’s Costume”; “Dress Up Day”; Something Special for Dad”; “I Love You, Mom”; “Thank You, Grandpere Tiger!” and “Neighborhood Thank You Day”. Plus it comes with a Daniel Tiger figurine that has movable head and arms. That was the first thing that my daughter says “DADDY!! IT MOVES!!”. If you love the show, this is a must buy and priced very right!

Official Premise: Hi neighbor! Meet Daniel Tiger, and welcome to his neighborhood! Four-year-old Daniel Tiger invites young viewers directly into his world, giving them a kid s eye view of his life and making them feel like one of his neighbors. As they follow Daniel s everyday adventures, preschoolers and their families learn fun and practical strategies and skills necessary for dealing with everyday experiences, like showing appreciation to friends and loved ones, dressing up for Halloween, and celebrating holidays.

I remember watching “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” when I was a kid. Now it is kind of a trip for me to have my own kid watch the new generation of that show with “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”. I also like that this show keeps the legacy of Fred Rogers alive and working for today’s children. The music in this series is very catchy and a lot of fun. I found my daughter (trying to) whistle along it days after watching. I have a feeling that “Snowflake Day!” episode is going to be getting a lot of play over the next few months.

DVD Review “Happy Christmas”

Actors: Anna Kendrick, Melaine Lynskey
Director: Joe Swanberg
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Paramount
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Run Time: 82 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

Personally, I am not huge fan of writer/director Joe Swanberg. Really hated his film “Drinking Buddies”. So I decided to give this one a try due to my love for Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect”). Despite the title, the film does really scream holiday spirit. I obviously wasn’t the right audience of this film. I am finding that I have very little patience for pretentious indie dramedies. A pass for me for sure but I am sure many trendy film buffs are going to gobble this dysfunctional family flick right up.

Official Premise: Anna Kendrick plays Jenny, an irresponsible 20-something who comes to Chicago to live with her older brother Jeff (Swanberg), a young filmmaker living a happy existence with his novelist wife Kelly (Lynskey) and their two-year-old son. Jenny’s arrival shakes up their quiet domesticity as she and her friend Carson (Dunham) instigate an evolution in Kelly’s life and career. Meanwhile, Jenny strikes up a rocky relationship with the family’s baby sitter-cum-pot dealer (Webber).

The rest of the cast includes Melanie Lynskey (“Heavenly Creatures”), Mark Webber (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”), Lena Dunham (“Girls”) and Joe Swanberg (“Drinking Buddies”). Honestly, not fond of any of the other cast. Good performances surely but they don’t really win me over. Paramount is only giving this film a DVD only release, not that this film would have really shines on Blu-ray either, just noting its faith in this film. There is no digital HD copy included either here. Lastly, there are no special features included at all.

Book Review “Happy Holidays! From the Avengers”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Marvel: Avengers
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Marvel Press
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Having a daughter, I have to try and cross her over from Princesses as much as I can while keeping the balance. She is already big on Star Wars, which is a score for daddy. So next to tackle is superheros. “Happy Holidays! From the Avengers” is a great way to start because my daughter loves the Holiday season and these characters are animated very well in this book to welcome a younger audience.

Official Premise: It was supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but after battling monsters and villains, the mighty Avengers just weren’t in the holiday spirit. Not even gifts form the Wasp could make their day merry. But who was that dashing through the snow? Could he save the Avengers and their holiday season?

The book also includes a read-along CD with none other narrating it than the voice of Stan Lee! This may not do anything for the younger kids but it is sure to grab the parents attention and get points in their book. It will also allow parents to share the information about Stan Lee to future get the younger kids involved in the history of the creator and the characters. Great book for younger kids, looks to enjoy the holidays with their favorite superheros.

Film Review “Happy Christmas”

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Joe Swanberg, Mark Webber and Lena Dunham
Directed By: Joe Swanberg
Running Time: 88 minutes
Magnolia Pictures

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Generally speaking, I’m not too fond of ‘Christmas in July!’ but thankfully Happy Christmas is far from A Holiday Film. Joe Swanberg’s light slice of life comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynskey is currently available on VOD and opened theatrically today.

Kendrick plays Jenny, the sister of Jeff (director Swanberg), she’s just had a bad breakup and is bunking in Jeff’s basement ostensibly there as an in-house babysitter for his two year old son while piecing her life back together. Jenny makes a terrible first impression with Jeff’s wife Kelly (Lynskey) by getting blackout drunk on her first night in town. At first viewing I was concerned that this would become a clichéd feud between the housewife and the messy sister-in-law, but refreshingly, Swanberg doesn’t go there. The result is a couple of thoroughly authentic female characters at very different points in their lives. While Kelly is at first wary of finding Jenny once again drinking with friend Carson (Lena Dunham) in their basement, the two convince her to share a beer with them and begin one of many of the film’s brilliantly natural conversations.

Not much older than Jenny, Kelly seems to everyone to be an actual grown up but Kelly is revealed to be reluctant about taking on the role of the stay-at-home mom. Her position has in many ways prevented her from pursuing her novelist career and she finds the younger women to be an outlet to which she can finally voice her concerns. For their part, Jenny and Carson see their presence as the opportunity Kelly needs to share some of her responsibilities and finally pursue her own goals. Despite some naivete about being a working writer, Jenny actually does reignite some inspiration that Kelly needed.

Swanberg is also charming as Jeff, whose laid back demeanor is finally stretched to its limits by his younger sister but the film truly belongs to its leading ladies. Your enjoyment of Kendrick’s performance may vary by your tolerance for the over usage of the word “like” in sentences, as for me, Jenny feels completely authentic to like, many people I know. Lynskey too is impressive for the vulnerability she brings to Kelly when she may have been a stick-in-the-mud. All of the cast are additionally helped out by Swanberg’s two year old Jude, who wholly steals the screen from his adult co-stars just by being an unscripted little kid.

None of the characters’ difficulties are ever completely fixed per se by the film’s conclusion, but there’s a genuine sense of warmth within this family unit not often felt in actual holiday films.

Blu-ray Review “When a Stranger Calls / Happy Birthday to Me”

Actors: Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Colleen Dewhurst, Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford
Directors: Fred Walton, J. Lee Thompson
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Run Time: 208 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to late 70’s / early 80’s horror, this is a period of horror films that will always be held special. This double feature comes with two classic horror flicks “When a Stranger Calls (1979)” and Happy Birthday to Me (1981)” that I grew up watch (without my parents permission, sorry guys). These films are fun and represent that classic period of horror to the T. There was some worry with this release since “Happy Birthday To Me” is used the artwork for it’s 2004 release, which used a terrible disco score for the film. But rejoice since the original score is included for this release and it sounds great! Horror fans this release should be an instant purchase, especially for less than $10 bucks for both films.

“When a Stranger Calls” Official Premise: A terrified young baby-sitter…an incessantly ringing phone…and whispered threats set the stage for one of the most suspenseful thrillers ever filmed. Carol Kane stars as the baby-sitter who is tormented by a series of ominous phone calls until a compulsive cop (Charles Durning) is brought on the scene to apprehend the psychotic killer. Seven years later, however, the nightmare begins again when the madman returns to mercilessly haunt Kane, now a wife and mother. No longer a naive girl, though still terrified, but prepared, she moves boldly to thwart the maniac s attack in scenes that culminate in a nerve shattering conclusion.

“Happy Birthday To Me” Official Premise: Get ready for a taut mystery-shocker that will keep you at your wit s end and at the edge of your seat. Popular high school senior Virginia Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson) survives a freak accident, but suffers from memory loss and traumatic blackouts. As she attempts to resume a normal life, something terrible is happening – her friends are ruthlessly murdered one-by-one. Will she be the next victim or is she the killer? The terrifying truth is finally uncovered at Virginia s 18th birthday party and you re invited!

Both “When a Stranger Calls / Happy Birthday to Me” look amazing on Blu-ray, especially for films that are over 30 years old. The transfer are sharp and clear. “When a Stranger Calls” is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, while “Happy Birthday to Me” comes with an 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In the audio department, “When a Stranger Calls” comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track, which delivers for the film itself. Surprisingly, “Happy Birthday to Me” comes with an amped up DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, trying to apologize to its fans of the past release with the terrible disco scores. No additional special features are included on this release.

William Forsythe talks about roles in "Happy in the Valley" and "Boardwalk Empire"

After several successful years appearing in various television (“Fame,” “Hill Street Blues”) and film (“King of the Mountain,” “The Lightship”) William Forsythe made an impact on filmgoers everywhere as escaped convict Evelle Snoats in the Coen Brothers comedy “Raising Arizona.” This led to featured roles in films like “Weeds,” “Dick Tracy,” “Out for Justice” and “American Me,” in which he gives one of my favorite performances – that of JD, a Caucasian gang member who acts Chicano. He continued to find success with roles in films like “The Waterdance,” “The Rock,” “Blue Streak” and “The Librarians,” which he also wrote. He also had a memorable turn as Al Capone in the television series “The Untouchables.” He recently completed a stint on the acclaimed HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” and will soon be seen as former boxer Jake LaMotta in the “Raging Bull” follow-up entitled “The Bronx Bull.” While promoting his current film, “Happy in the Valley,” Mr. Forsythe took some time to answer some questions. We traded blizzard stories (I was in the middle of one when we spoke and he had just dug himself out of one the week before) for a few moments before he talked about his new film, “Boardwalk Empire” and what could be next for him behind the camera.

Mike Smith: Introduce us to your character in “Happy in the Valley,” photographer Stewart Fox.
William Forsythe: What kind of introduction would you like? He’s pretty “balls to the wall!” What I think is amazing about Stewart as a character is that he’s a guy that has basically lived on the very bottom of the Hollywood scene. He worked his way up and rose to the top of his profession. He’s now fallen back down.

MS: What about the character drew you to the project?
WF: What drew me to the project is that this guy has seen it all in the course of his life and he’s been at the top of his game. And now, at this point of his life, he’s back at the very bottom. He’s become bitter. He has a drinking problem. He has a drug problem. And what really drew me to this picture is that you have this world that is really seedy and ugly as the backdrop. It’s really a story about his epiphany. One of the main things is that this guy, who has been everywhere, really learns that he needs to go back to the beginning…to where it all began. It’s such an uplifting story, especially for a film that’s set in the porn business.

MS: Stewart is described as “The World’s Greatest Erotic Photographer.” What exactly does that entail?
WF: I think it entails different things that occur during his life and career. In the beginning he was touted as one of the great photographers. He did very classy shoots…very classy and erotic shoots. But at this point in the game…as the porn world goes from film to digital….it’s like boxing is being replaced by crazy cage fighting…this world that he once knew has changed. In order to support himself he has to take himself to the bottom of the industry. He makes money but the amount of dignity he can take home with him is literally none.

MS: You’ve had such great success in both film and television projects. Do you have a preferred medium to work in?
WF: I love to make movies. Movies are my favorite. I love to take a story and tell the whole story from beginning to end. I enjoy television too but basically every week you get handed new pages and you don’t have a lot of control about where the story is going. And there are so many types of films. I’ve done my share of big studio pictures. But when you take on a beautiful independent film like “Happy in the Valley” you can see the magic happen…it’s the closest thing to the old feeling I used to get on stage. It reminded me of going off and doing summer stock.

MS: Speaking of getting pages and finding out you’re no longer on the show, do you miss the experience of working on “Boardwalk Empire?”
WF: I had a great time working on that show and I miss all of the people involved. The one thing about “Boardwalk Empire” – to the man and woman – is that people were dedicated to putting out something special. And that is not as common as it used to be. And that aspect of it I miss. But I knew….when I entered “Boardwalk Empire” everything was rolling along fine…but I knew the minute that I killed those two girls that I had a thunderbolt hanging over my head. And it’s true. You do find out on the day. They hand you your pages and you’re dead!

MS: You wrote the film “The Librarians” and you’ve produced several projects. Do you ever see yourself sitting in the director’s chair? WF: I do. I’ve had a couple offers and I certainly have a lot of scripts that I’ve written. So yes, I do.

MS: Any word on when “The Bronx Bull” will be released?
WF: I’m not sure on the exact date. The last time I spoke to the producers they were shooting for late spring. They’re hoping for an initial theatrical release of 20-25 cities but they haven’t set a release date yet.

MS: Thank you again for your time this morning.
WF: Thank you. And stay strong in that blizzard, buddy!

Blu-ray Review “Happy Feet Two”

Directed by: George Miller
Starring: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Pink
Sofía Vergara,Common, Hugo Weaving, Richard Carter, Magda Szubanski, Anthony LaPaglia
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date: March 13, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 105 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When “Happy Feet Two” tanked at the box office, I was not shocked at all. I thought the trailers looked terrible and had no interest in it at all. Well, let me start by saying it wasn’t that bad but not great either. The best part of the movie was the visuals. The CG was so clear and I am sure this film would look amazing in 3D, especially with the krill scenes. Speaking of krill, the adventures of Will and Bill (voiced by Brad Pitt & Matt Damon) where easily the best part of the whole film. Besides that, I love Pink’s singing in the film and enjoyed the music quite a bit as well. It wasn’t all Lady GaGa and Beyonce, those peguins rocked out to some Queen and David Bowie as well. The story on the other hand was not so great.

The story follows Erik, the son of Mumble and Gloria and his adventure to find out why he is special…I think. Then there is a lot of music and dancing in between. Then a glacier traps the colony of penguins and they need to break them free with…wait for it…dancing and music. I am not really sure how George Miller does it going from films like “Mad Max” to “Babe” to “Happy Feet” and then right back to “Mad Max: Fury Road”. The Blu-ray presentation unlike the story is absolutely amazing. The video presentation is near flawless. The audio is speaker-blasting good and really maxes out its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

Like the film, the special features are lacking in the entertainment department. You have the ability to download the “Happy Feet Two Movie App” and take advantage of “Second Screen” on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. There is interactive games and sing-alongs. There are four behind-the-scenes featurettes, running about 25 minutes and are definitely aimed for kids. They are: “Helping Penguins and Pals”, “How to Draw a Penguin”, “Running with Boadicea” and “The Amazing Voices of Happy Feet Two”. What is this film without it’s music, well there are a few sing-alongs included for “The Mighty Sven,” “Bridge of Light” and “Papa Oom Mow Mow” and a look at Pink’s new song. Lastly, there is a CG-animated Looney Tunes short starring Tweetie and Sylvester called “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat”. It also includes an original song from the voice of Mel Blanc. So it is probably the best feature easily.

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Synopsis: The sequel to “Happy Feet”, the Academy Award®-winning animated smash hit, “Happy Feet Two” returns audiences to the magnificent landscape of Antarctica in Superb 3D. Mumble, The Master of Tap, has a problem because his tiny son, Erik, is choreo-phobic. Reluctant to dance, Erik runs away and encounters The Mighty Sven – a penguin who can fly! Mumble has no hope of competing with this charismatic new role model. But things get worse when the world is shaken by powerful forces. Erik learns of his father’s “guts and grit” as Mumble brings together the penguin nations and all manner of fabulous creatures – from tiny Krill to giant Elephant Seals – to put things right.

DVD Review “Another Happy Day”

Directed by: Sam Levinson
Starring: Ellen Barkin, Kate Bosworth, Ellen Burstyn, Thomas Haden Church
George Kennedy, Ezra Miller, Demi Moore
Distributed by Phase 4 Films
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 119 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

This film has one heck of an outstanding cast and the performances are great…although it doesn’t make a good film. The film is billed as a black comedy but there is hardly anything comedic about it, in fact it is very depressing. Ezra Miller is really stepping up as being the go-to guy for messed up roles, especially after co-starring in “We Need to Talk About Kevin”. Ellen Barkin also gives a very intense performance but man she looks really OLD!! The film was the winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s Screenwriting Award and it no shock as the story is quite well done but the two hour running time definitely drags the film down.

The movie focuses on one messed up family that is getting together for a wedding. The wedding is for Lynn’s (Ellen Barkin) oldest son Dylan. Things get complicated when her other son Elliot (Ezra Miller) gets out of control and issues with her yet-to-arrive daughter Alice (Kate Bosworth). Lynn also has to deal with her ex-husband (Thomas Haden Church) and his new wife (Demi Moore) as they try to take over the wedding. Lynn is pushed to the limit and how much is she able to take before her and her family goes over the edge.

This film is the debut of writer and director Sam Levinson and he definitely shows potential especially with the script. The DVD does not come with any special features which does not give this release any extra points. Everyone has dysfunctional families but this one definitely takes the cake. If you are looking for some great performances, this might be interesting to take a look into but otherwise I would take a pass on this one.

Blu-ray Review “Happy, Happy”

Director: Anne Sewitsky
Starring: Agnes Kittelsen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Joachim Rafaelsen, Maibritt Saerens
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1/2 out of 5 stars

This film is a Norwegian comedy from 2010 ( if you can consider it a comedy). It was also elected as the Norwegian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards…I guess it was a slow year for them. This film is not funny at all and in fact is a little depressing in fact. I do not think that it is lost in translation either as I quite enjoyed “Trollhunter”, which was another Norwegian comedy from 2010. Running at 88 minutes the film still feels long and dragged out.

The film follows two couples that both have issues with their marriages. The story is setup when Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen) and Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) to the country and end up next door to Kaja (Agnes Kittelsen) and Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen). The couples get to know each other and the truth behind both couples are eventually found out. The couples strive to find out what does it take to be happy in your marriage.

I have to say the only saving grace for the film has to be Agnes Kittelsen. She is very cute and definitely keep my interest in the film, but that doesn’t make the movie any better. It just kept me from turning it off. There are no special features on the Blu-ray besides a US and an international trailer for the film. Overall, stay WAY away from this film for sure.

Film Review “Happy Feet Two”

Starring the voices of: Elijah Wood, Hank Azaria and Robin Williams
Directed by: George Miller
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 40 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Penguins are so darn cuddly. So much so that films like “March of the Penguins” and the first “Happy Feet” waddled home with Academy Awards. And lots of money. Add those two facts up and you get “Happy Feet Two.”

With the thumping beat of “Sexyback” on the soundtrack, we return once again to the waddle of penguins (that’s right, kids, a group of penguins is called a waddle) that enchanted us in “Happy Feet.” Mumble (Wood) is grown up and married to Gloria (Pink, taking over from the late Brittany Murphy). They have a young boy named Erik (Ava Acres) who is, shall we say, choreographically challenged. Mumble couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket but he could sure trip the light fantastic. Sadly it appears that, when it comes to dancing, Erik has two left flippers. Meanwhile, out to sea, we come across two daring krill named Will (Brad Pitt) and Bill (Matt Damon). Will wants to see the world, leave the large school of fellow krill they swim with and snack on something other then plants. “I want to eat something with a face,” he declares to Bill. Old penguin pal Ramon (Williams) can’t seem to buy a date, so he decides to head out in the world to find the future Mrs. Ramon. Dejected by his lack of rhythm, Erik follows Ramon. When the two come across a flying penguin named Sven (Azaria) the adventure begins.

Beautiful to look at and featuring strong voice work, “Happy Feet Two” is a musical that suffers musically. While the first film relied on such classic songs as “Somebody to Love,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “Tell Me Something Good,” many of the songs in the sequel are original. And bland. Though I admit I have no idea how you would go about rhyming the word “penguin.” It’s not that songs like L.L. Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” or the Rivingtons’ oldie “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” are better known. It’s just that they’re better written.

The voice cast does very well adding their personalities, as well as their voices, to the characters. Pitt and Damon get the lion’s share of the good lines and they’re comic typing is impeccable. Azaria has fun with Sven while Robin Williams does double duty as both Ramon and Lovelace. Pink is strong as Gloria while other voices (Sofia Vergara, Common, Anthony LaPaglia) keep the story moving. The film slows down some when Mumble tries to group the various wintry wildlife together but is still visually lovely to look at. Again, the original songs make it not that lovely to listen to.

Interview with Gregg Henry

Gregg Henry is currently co-starring in James Gunn’s new film “Super”.  Gregg has also worked Gunn on his last film “Slither”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Gregg about his new role and his returning role on  HBO’s “Hung”, which is returning for season two this year.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role in the new film “Super”?
Gregg Henry: The new film “Super”…written and directed by the great James Gunn…it was a pleasure to work with him again. “Super” also stars Rainn Wilson, who plays a man whose wife has gone missing. He’s pretty sure she’s been kidnapped. He needs help from the police so he comes to me. I sort of listen to his plea…listen to his case…and follow up on it. I don’t want to give away too much about the movie but I’ll say that Rainn’s character tries to take justice into his own hands with sometimes comic, often violent and sometimes moving results.

MG: How was it working with James Gunn again after “Slither”?
GH: “Slither” was just so much fun. We had a gas doing that movie. It was first of all a tremendous script. James is such a special and unique talent. He knows how to blend the genre’s of comedy and horror. He can take little bits of all kinds of genre’s and make them a whole. Where often people get tripped up trying to mix things up, James is really quite a master of it. Plus we had the hilarious Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker…we had a great cast. We had a really fun time. Anytime James calls I’ll be there. I have a great belief in him. I think he’s a huge talent.

MG: We’ve also interviewed Michael Rooker and asked him this question: Was “Slither” a difficult production?
GH: Well, the production was (slows his speech) SU-PER low budget. We were just running and gunning and flying. It was filmed in Shreveport (Louisiana) with high speed cameras. James was doing 30-35 set ups a day. And we NEVER sat down! It was constant movement. The crew as well. The DP would have to set up the shots and he was scary fast. That made it a little dicey at times. But it was a great set…very congenial and great working conditions.

MG: Tell us about working with Thomas Jane on HBO’s “Hung?”
GH: You’ll get no spoilers from me! (laughs) We have a great time. The producers of the show also did “The Riches,” which I was on for two years. So I have a relationship with them. It’s always great to work with them. The show is…again…kind of a blend of things. You hear what the premise is and you think “this is going to be cheesy.” And it ends up being a really human story…very funny but, again, kindly oddly moving at times. And I have to give the credit to the great, great writing.

MG: How was it working with Joss Whedon on “Firefly” and “Dollhouse”? How did that come about?
GH: I got an offer to work on “Firefly,” which is where I met Nathan. We became great buddy so it was great to work with him time after time. And then on “Dollhouse” I got a call to come in. And I have to admit that I still don’t understand that series. I’d read the script four times and say, “I don’t get it…I just don’t get it!” But we had a great time
working on it. And I also think that Joss, too, is a very great, bright talent.

MG: Besides acting you are also a singer/songwriter and have recorded several albums. Tell us about that?
GH: I’ve always been a piano playing singer/songwriter, but I really started taking it seriously about 12 years ago. It’s a great part of my life. I have three or four CDs that are available on CD Baby. I use my full name for my music career, which is Gregg Lee Henry. I wrote a song called “The Back of Your Hand” that Dwight Yoakum recorded. The great, great Dwight Yoakum! He had a pretty big hit with it. The video went to #1 on Country Music Television and stayed there for about eight or nine weeks. The song is on his album “Population Me.” It’s still available and I urge people to buy it as a compact disc as the record company has some kind of hassle with iTunes (laughs). The singles that Dwight released from that album are not on iTunes. They were for awhile but there was some kind of legal problem. But I continue to do it. I’ve written a musical called “Little Egypt.” It’s was accepted into the New York Musical Theatre Festival. We ran it there in 2007 as well as a wonderful production at the Matrix Theater in Los Angeles. I have another musical I’m working on…it’s something I’m always doing. I play out at a couple clubs around L.A. about every other month to try out some new songs. It’s just something
I do.

MG: What other projects do you have upcoming?
GH: This season of “Hung” is just starting up so we’re shooting that. We’re pretty deep into that. I also have a movie called “Blood Brothers” coming out. There’s also another film rolling around called “Isolation” that hasn’t come out yet. It’s directed by Stephen Kay, who did the “BTK” killer movie I did for CBS. That was a difficult movie but
he did a great job.

Interview with Jesse Dayton

Jesse Dayton is a name still relatively new to the film industry. Jesse’s first on screen performance was in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” as the lead singer of Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures. Jesse however has been a staple in the music industry for quite some time playing with countless acts and releasing his own albums. Jesse recently spoke with Movie Mikes about his music career and how it led him to doing movies.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you first started working with Rob Zombie?
Jesse Dayton: I was going to a show one night and on my way there I received a call from Rob. Rob told me that he had heard one of my records and wanted to know if I would be interested in making a fake Banjo and Sullivan record for his film “Devils Rejects.” I didn’t fully understand what Rob was looking for until I got to Los Angeles. Lew Temple and I got together and wrote a bunch of songs. We played them for Rob one day in his production office and he fell out of his seat once he heard them. This was actually the first time I had met.

AL: Was this the first time you had met Lew Temple as well?
JD: I have actually known Lew for a long time. Lew used to come out to all of my shows when he was still a baseball scout for the Astros. We just got to be really good friends and we spent a lot of time together. Lew is the guy who passed my work onto Rob.

AL: How did your role as Captain Clegg in “Halloween II” come about?
JD: A little while after I finished the Banjo and Sullivan record I did some song for Rob’s “The Haunted World of El Super Beasto”. After that he contacted me about doing the album for Captain Clegg as well as being in the film. It really has just snowed balled from doing that Banjo and Sullivan record. After Halloween II was released I went out on the road with Captain Clegg opening forty shows for Rob and Alice Cooper which was just great!

AL: Were you a fan of the horror genre prior to working with Rob?
JD: Yeah I’m a fan. I am a huge film geek! I probably watch anywhere from six to ten movies a weeks. I have always been really into films. I was really proud of “Devils Rejects” when it came. I think Rob brought exploitation film back even before Tarantino or Rodriguez. The characters in that film are just great. Rob really puts a lot into not only the onscreen story of his characters but also the back stories as well.

AL: Has there been any talk about being in his new film “The Lords of Salem”?
JD: We have emailed back a fourth a few times but I don’t really presume that I have been officially asked to be a part of the film. We will have to wait and see. Rob likes to keep me in the loop.

AL: Can you tell us about “The Sinner” which you produced and have a roll in?
JD: We showed that film at the South by South West festival in Austin, Texas and were immediately contacted by some business people who asked us not to release the film. The idea is to make the film into a television show. We currently are in talks with some really big networks to put this out as a series. Aside from being a producer on the film I also play Reverend Roy who is a corrupt drug lord from New Orleans. The role really worked for me especially with my accent.

AL: What can you tell us about your upcoming film “Zombex”?
JD: We set up the production office last week and we are currently still getting all the cast nailed down. We plan to start shooting around May 3rd in New Orleans. I’m really excited about every aspect of this film. I wish I could tell you more about it however we are being very quiet till we have everything set to go.

AL: You just finished up a stage play correct?
JD: Yes I did. It was a play about Kinky Freidman. I had gotten a call from a play write in New York who had previously written a play about Patsy Klein. This play is actually the follow up to that entitled “Becoming Kinky”. I had heard about the casting for this play through some New York friends of mine and was able to get in touch with the right people. They actually came down to Texas so I could audition. After the audition they gave me the part on the spot. I had no idea how much work it was. The plan is to take the play to New York next which will be really great.

For more information on Jesse check out www.JesseDayton.com

Also be checking back for part 2 of our interview with Jesse when we check in with him from the set of “Zombex”