Film Review “Incredibles 2”

Directed by: Brad Bird
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L. Jackson
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 118 minutes

Film Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When I saw the first “Incredibles” movie, I really wasn’t blown away. I know there are some extreme people that saw that it is one of Pixar’s best but I never and still don’t see it even after 14 years. It’s obvious a sequel is here but even though “Incredibles 2” is a smart movie that not only has a message but improves from the first film…yet I was left unsatisfied luckily my expectation were low. I will say that “Incredibles 2” is definitely an action packed movie. I just wish it was more fun. I wanted to laugh more for sure. I just didn’t feel like the cast was having fun. “Incredibles 2” runs nearly two hours, which is a lot for kids to stick with. My little one left the theater yawning (as did I). Second act definitely picks up some steam but too late I felt.

Official Premise: “In “Incredibles 2,” Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose super powers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.”

I just don’t see the fascination with these characters. I don’t like them, especially not in this movie. Mr. Incredible is a major egomaniac. I really didn’t like him in this movie, I know he is trying to be funny having “a men” taking care of his children while mommy is out working. I get it, the roles are reversed for the time that this film is timed in. It doesn’t make it any better that he is jealous of his wife’s success and honestly gives me a real bad taste throughout most of his scenes. I am glad that Elastic Girl gets a chance to shine this movie, even if it has a social commentary within it and it ended up being my favorite part of the film. I felt like it added an extra level to the typical superhero male driven story.

Frozone was used a little more this time but at the same time even less it felt like. I didn’t enjoy looking at (the Acid reflux guy was disgusting) or listening to any of the new characters that were introduced outside of Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener). These two nailed their roles for sure. I liked them but the other “supers” weren’t super at all. Jack-Jack definitely steals the show, no question. He is funny and super cute. Loved his powers for sure. There is a great bit with Edna and Jack-Jack that was a riot. So in closing, I am not a huge fan of “The Incredibles”, I enjoyed the sequel but it is not a favorite of mine. It is probably not something I can watch over and over again like we have with “Inside Out” or “Wreck-it Ralph”. But if you are a huge fan of the first movie, this will definitely leave you satisfied and wanting more.

Film Review “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Directed by: Morgan Neville
Starring: Fred Rogers
Distributed by: Focus Features
Running time: 93 minutes

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor,  Would you be mine? , Could you be mine?” In the 1980’s these lyrics to the opening song in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”, started my day as a kid! This is a show that I watched ALWAYS! I loved “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”. He was a very special person and there isn’t anyone else around like him today. I feel like the world would be a better place if people really cared about others. I mean really cared. We are way to skeptical people these days and times when “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” first debuted people looked to him, like myself, as a role model. They listened to him and trusted what he said. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a fantastic trip back into the world of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”. Get your tissue box ready cause this one is guaranteed to hit those heart strings!

Director Morgan Leville, knows best for his His Oscar winning 2014 film, “20 Feet From Stardom”, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. He is back and this time focusing on a legend that perhaps doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves. This film is also quite an eye-opener. It makes you think about the world and how it’s changed and what we can do to help the future for our children. This documentary will actually make you wish you lived in a time when things were simpler. Daily, Mister Rogers would make sure to tell everyone watching how special they are for just being them! Now what is wrong with that?!. With all the hate and disgust coming out of the media and the world today, I don’t know how Mister Rogers would have fit in today’s world…but I wish his influences were recognized more. The film showcases a big part in the history of PBS and Fred Rogers, when he testified before Congress in order to get funding. If he wouldn’t have stood up for what he believed in and left his heart on the table exclaiming how he help kids and how he feels like he is an important part of their lives things would be much different since ended up getting the funding and changed children’s TV forever.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a tight feature, running around 90 minutes. It goes fast and leaves you with happy tears leaving the theater. The documentary brings to light various issues that the show dealt with rather it be protesting or hiding sexuality of the co-cast and showcased some pranking on set during the production. I never knew that side since I was a young kid. The film has a slight edge to it, so I wouldn’t show this to kids. This is a documentary for adults, who were influenced in their life by Fred Rogers and the important work that he did. I really enjoyed getting to meet some of the cast from the show in the present and what they have been up to. There are tons of great archive footage as well with great interviews and behind-the-scenes content with Fred Rogers. One thing I take away from this movie is that I will be sure to try everything I can to keep his spirit alive with my own family and moving on! Good see this movie ASAP and remember to bring those tissues!

Film Review: “Oceans 8”

OCEAN’S 8

Starring:  Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway

Directed by:  Gary Ross

Rated:  PG 13

Running time:  1 hour 50 mins

Warner Bros

We are introduced to Debbie Ocean (Bullock) as she is being released from prison, having done five years for a crime she claims she didn’t commit (she was set up).  Sadly, we soon learn that Debbie was NOT rehabilitated, as she cons her way into everything from cosmetics to a swanky hotel room.  She also takes the time to stop at her brother Danny’s grave, letting the audience know in the first 10 minutes not to look for that assumed George Clooney cameo.  As soon as she’s settled she begins putting into place a plan that she has been perfecting for three years.  And she only needs seven people to help her.

 

Slow and plodding at the beginning, with a mostly satisfying conclusion, “Ocean’s 8” boasts an amazing cast of women with their own amazing list of accomplishments,  Between the eight members of the “gang” are four Oscars, two Emmys, eight Grammys, six Golden Globes and five BAFTAs.  Sadly none of them brought them to work with them, as the plot progresses so slowly that seeing one of the ladies flash their trophies might have added some excitement to the proceedings.

 

In a nutshell, Debbie has decided to steal a $150 million necklace at the annual Met Gala.  She then rounds up a smorgasbord of like-minded associates…everyone from Rhianna’s surveillance expert to Mandy Kaling’s diamond expert.  The actresses are fine in their roles, but, despite attempts to give them some kind of personality, they’re all very similar in delivery and demeanor.  Which makes this film pale against Clooney’s “Ocean” trilogy.  Heck, even the great 60s version with Frank Sinatra was more fun.  The difference is that those films had set characters that did not act the same.  This film could have used the comedy duo of Casey Affleck and Scott Caan or the blustery antics of Bernie Mac.  Gary Ross is a fine director who knows how to keep the action moving, but here his script has conspired against him.

Film Review: “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

 

SOLO:  A STAR WARS STORY
Starring:  Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson and Emelia Clarke
Directed by:  Ron Howard
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  2 hrs 15 mins
Walt Disney

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

For more than four decades, those words have promised great adventures and memorable characters.  And most of the time those promises were kept.  I crossed my fingers going into this one but I’m happy to report that the new film “Solo,” like Gary Busey in the 1990s, is indeed a promise keeper.

Brash and full of confidence, we meet a young Han (Ehrenreich) and his lady friend Qi’ra (Clarke) right after they’ve been double-crossed while doing a deal at the behest of the evil Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt).  The good Lady is not pleased but, before she can punish the duo, they make a run for it.  While Han makes his way to safety, Qi’ra is caught.  Knowing he must go away, Han joins the service, determined to become a pilot.  Wonder how that’s going to turn out for him?

Set, in my mind, about 10 years before the events we know as EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE or, simply STAR WARS, “Solo” is an origin story in the true sense of the word.  Taken under the wing of smuggler/thief/jack of all trades Tobias Beckett (Harrelson) we learn many things about Han.  Where he got his blaster.  How he met Chewbacca.  Heck, we even find out where he got his name.  Through the course of his adventures, he meets a young, kindred soul named Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), a card cheat who has an almost unhealthy amount of capes in his closet.  Together, the two adversaries begin a cautious friendship that, we now know, will continue for many years.

There is a lot more I could say, but I don’t want to be known as the guy who forgets to yell SPOILER ALERT!  What I will say is that director Howard has set the pace for a film that could easily stand alone.  All in all, “Solo” is a welcome piece in the continuing “Star Wars” saga!

 

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Film Review: “The Book Club”

BOOK CLUB
Starring:  Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen
Directed by:  Bill Holderman
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hrs 44 mins
Paramount

Our Score: 4 out of 5 (stars!)

Between them they have 13 Academy Award nominations and 4 Oscars.  THEY are Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen and together they form the members of Paramount’s latest comedy, “The Book Club.”

Keaton plays Diane, recently widowed.  Fonda is Vivian, a wealthy hotel owner who refuses to sleep with men, meaning she’ll have sex but she won’t stay the night.  Bergen is Sharon, a Federal Judge whose husband (Ed Begley, Jr) left her 18 years ago and continues to date much younger women.  Steenburgen is Carol, married to the recently retired Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) who seems to have lost all interest in everything but his old motorcycle.  Each month this quartet of ladies meets and discusses a book they have recently read, an appointment they started in the 70s with Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying.”  Feeling like the last few months entries have been lifeless, Vivian decides to spice up things by introducing the “50 Shades of Grey” series to their reading tables.  And spice things up it does.

There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing professionals at the top of their craft and “The Book Club” does not disappoint.

The film takes an honest, but humorous, look at love after 60.  It’s not all roses and champagne.  As the book begins to stir their desires, the three single women meet similar aged men who have refused to let age slow them down.  Diane meets a handsome airline pilot (Andy Garcia).  Vivian rekindles an old romance with Arthur (Don Johnson) while Sharon explores the world of on-line dating with both Richard Dreyfuss and Wallace Shawn.  The story has its great share of laughs but also some emotional times of reflection, all driven by a true all-star cast.

FYI, the four leading ladies also have between them 38 Golden Globe nominations (14 wins) and 12 Emmy nods (5 wins).  They should have called this film the Golden Girls.

Film Review: “Deadpool 2”

DEADPOOL 2
Starring:  Ryan Reynolds, Morena Bacarin and Josh Brolin
Directed by:  David Leitch
Rated:  R
Running time:  1 hrs 59 mins
20th Century Fox

Every once in a while a film comes along that not only bends the rules, but breaks them.  Such a film was “Deadpool.”  Is there any way the sequel can live up to that introduction?  Yes indeedy.

Ryan Reynolds continues his journey as the foul-mouthed, yet sensitive, Wade Wilson, better known to us moviegoers as Deadpool.  In this chapter he firmly puts tongue in cheek as he tries his best to learn the meaning of the word family.

Along the way he pokes fun at so many pop culture references that I literally lost count.  The Justice League.  “The Goonies.”  A still simmering anger with anything to do with Wolverine.  His sarcasm is razor fine and cuts just as easily.  A running gag where a line from the film “Frozen” sounds suspiciously like “Papa Can You Hear Me” from the film, “Yentl” is reigned in enough so it actually makes you laugh no matter how many times you hear it.  And the added humor that Josh Brolin is Barbra Streisands’s step-son only makes the gag even funnier.

Brolin, fresh off his gig in “The Avengers: Infiniti Wars,” plays Cable, a time-traveling mutant that’s as buff as his “Avengers” alter ego Thanos.  Brolin gives the role a sense of drama but isn’t above having a little fun himself.  If I’m sounding a little evasive here, it’s because the film company has asked reviewers not to give away too much of the film.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Like its predecessor, “Deadpool 2” is one of the best comic book films ever.

Cannes Film Festival Review: “Astro”

ASTRO

 

Starring: Gary Daniels, Courtney Akbar and Michael Pare’

Directed by: Asif Akbar

Rated: Not Rated

Running time: 1 hour 45 mins

Avail Films

 

A young woman (Courtney Akbar) sits alone in her room as Christmas approaches.   She wonders aloud if she will ever see her father again.  She is greeted by a flash and is approached by a creature that calls herself “Vivian” (Max Wasa).  She informs the daughter that she is there to “show her the way.”

We are not alone.

That is the message we quickly learn in director Asif Akbar’s latest film, “Astro.”

The film begins with radio broadcasts, as well as newspaper accounts, of the various incidents reported in the late 1940s in Roswell, New Mexico.  For years, Roswell has either been looked upon as either a tourist trap or the place where the government is hiding SOMETHING!  We are privy to an examination of a “creature,” under the guidance of billionaire space enthusiast Alexander Biggs (Marshal Hilton).  When a DNA test of the creature reveals the name of a long lost friend, Biggs realizes that his thoughts and hopes about extraterrestrials may finally be coming true.

An entertaining film, “Astro” benefits from a strong cast and firm direction.  I am a huge fan of Mr. Akbar’s 2012 documentary, “Top Priority:  The Terror Within,” a film in which he took on the government after learning of a major security breach along the border, and his approach to this story is almost the same.  His use of close-ups gives one the impression one is watching a documentary, which puts the viewer more into the story that is unfolding on screen.

The cast are also “all in” on the story, with nary a false note in sight.   Mr. Hilton is slickly smooth, channeling a cross between Jeremy Irons and Charles Dance.  Mr. Daniels and Ms. Akbar are a devoted father/daughter team, one whose bond seems genuine.  And, to be honest, I’ve always liked Michael Pare’, so it’s always a pleasure to see him on the big screen.

The script, by Mr. Akbar and Bernard Selling, adds enough humor to keep the story light and the musical score, by Erick Schroder, sets the tone for the entire film.  If there is a fault in the film, it is its budget.  The special effects, while passible, do have a homemade quality to them.  Nothing horrible, but when you release your film at the same time as the new “Avengers” or “Solo” is in theatres, you’d have to understand the criticism.

That being said, like “Close Encounters” before it, the questions need to be answered!”

 

Film Review: “I Feel Pretty”

I FEEL PRETTY
Starring:  Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams and Lauren Hutton
Directed by:  Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hrs 50 mins
STX Entertainment

 

Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder?  Why is my nose this way?  Why is my chin that way?  Do other people think I’m pretty?  Or handsome?  They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which Amy Schumer learns with a vengeance, in “I Feel Pretty.”

Renee Bennett (Schumer) is a fun girl.  But she’s insecure.  She’s a little more “curvy” than some women and, while attractive, doesn’t see herself as pretty.  Some of this self-doubt comes from the fact that she works in the online department of one of the world’s largest makeup companies, whose spokesperson/owner (Williams) is the cover girl.  Renee spends her free time with her friends Vivian (Aidy Bryant) and Jane (Busy Phillips) and, while the three aren’t setting any records with attracting men, they enjoy being together.  One night, while watching the movie “Big,” Renee jokingly wishes she were beautiful.  The next day, at a SPIN class, she falls and hits her head.  When she comes to, she looks in a mirror and smiles.  She IS beautiful.

Though I’m still trying to figure out the message (Beauty is on the inside?  Be careful of what you wish for?  Be happy with who you are?) the film is trying to send, I found “I Feel Pretty” to be a funny film with a little bit of heart.  Now that she’s “pretty,” Renee has the courage to apply for a job as receptionist of her company, a job she’s noticed is normally filled by amazingly beautiful women.  Instead of being the woman who feels she’s five pounds too heavy, she sees herself as one of the beautiful people, giving herself the self-confidence she needs to not only get the job but flirt with the handsome brother of her boss.  But soon she is self-absorbed with the idea of her beauty, abandoning her friends and climbing the social ladder.  She doesn’t realize that it’s not her perceived looks that are getting her places, it’s her confidence in herself, and this is what impresses.

The film is well cast, with Schumer striking all the right notes.  This is not the raunchy Amy Schumer you may be familiar with.  This version is a little tamer, but still fun loving.  A scene where she impulsively enters a bikini contest, hiking her shorts and t-shirt up to expose her stomach, undulating to the music, is a moment of pure freedom.  Williams, with a Jennifer Tilly-esque voice, is also well cast as a woman whose beauty doesn’t allow others to see how intelligent she is.  Rory Scovel is Ethan, a man Renee meets “cute” at a coffee shop who falls in love with Renee the way she is, not the way she sees herself.  And, my God, how is it that 74 year old Lauren Hutton is as beautiful today as she was when I was a teenager??

 

Directors/screenwriters Kohn and Silverstein, who previously gave us “Never Been Kissed” and “He’s Just Not That Into You,” do a fine job keeping the story moving in their feature directorial debut.  I appreciate the fact that, even when she looks into a mirror, Schumer sees what we see – Amy Schumer – and not some high cheekboned model.  Both Renee, and Schumer, are just fine the way they are.

Film Review “Aardvark”

Directed by: Brian Shoaf
Starring: Zachary Quinto and Jenny Slate, Jon Hamm, Sheila Vand
Production company: Great Point Media
Rated PG-13

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Aardvark” is not a film that I would normally watch. I was draw to the film simply from it’s cast including Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek”) and Jenny Slate (SNL, “Obvious Child”). The acting in the film is really superb. I really only know Jenny Slate from her voice work including the new “Muppet Babies”, “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The Secret Live Of Pets”, so this was a very different film for her. It is a straight blown drama. The whole cast was fantastic and I really dug the film for the first half and then it took a nice dive in the second act and closed out disappointing for me.

Here is the film’s official premise: “Aardvark” follows Josh Norman, a troubled man who has lived in the shadow of his brother Craig for so long he starts seeing that shadow everywhere. After experiencing a series of hallucinations involving Craig – an actor, and the star of a popular TV drama – Josh places himself in the care of Emily, a young therapist. Emily is forced to wade deeper and deeper into Josh’s imaginary world, and along the way forms her own obsession with his famous brother. While Emily and Craig explore a potentially disastrous attraction, Josh begins a relationship with a young woman, Hannah, who might be his soul mate – if only he could be sure she exists.

During the film there are these really interesting hallucination sequences that Quinto’s character experiences. I found myself mesmerized to see what was going to happen next. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who really want to see this but I appreciate where the film went. It was hopefully but I didn’t like the ending and I wanted more fleshed out with Quinto’s character. This is a little art house film that will play very well in those markets I am sure. It has the trendy cast and that art festival feeling to it. I didn’t hate it but I don’t see myself watching it ever again.

Film Review “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare”

Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto. Landon Liboiron
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 100 minutes

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

Blumhouse Productions has been busting out some really solid horror films recently including last year’s “Get Out” and “Split”. “Truth or Dare” is not one of them. I was just telling my wife that I feel like horror is taking the turn again like it did back in 1996 when “Scream” came out and horror became popular mainstream again. I feel like that is happening with the enormous success of films like “IT” and “A Quiet Place”. “Truth or Dare” is bland, boring and not scary at all.

The film stars Lucy Hale from “Pretty Little Liars” and Tyler Posey from “Teen Wolf’. The premise is exactly what you would expect from the film’s title. It features a group of idiotic kids that decide to place “a harmless game” of Truth or Dare only to find out that it is much more deadly! Insert evil laugh here!! Wahhhhaaaa. The friends quickly realize that they can’t tell a lie or refuse the dare as they find themselves deeper in the game than expected. Bored? I am.

As I am writing this I am starting to think that I may be getting too old for these teen slashers. For teens and young adults, this might be your jam because it carries the cheapest scares and packs a “pretty” young cast of kids from various TV shows. Listen, I don’t blame Blumhouse for releasing this movie. It is a smart strategic move. It cost $3.5 million dollars and will easily make 3x that in North American box office alone. Go see “A Quiet Place” instead, it is a movie that requires you to be quiet, patient and wait for a real scare.

Film Review: “Chappaquiddick”

Starring:  Jason Clarke, Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan
Directed by:  John Curran
Rated:  R
Running time:  1 hrs 46 mins
Apex Entertainment

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Before I begin I’m going to share something.  I was born in 1960 and the Kennedy family were royalty in our house.  One of the few times I can remember my father crying was the day JFK was assassinated and I can remember my mother doing the same thing in 1968 when Bobby was killed.  My first presidential election was 1980 and I worked tirelessly for Ted Kennedy’s campaign.  So I kind of go into anything related to the Kennedy legend with a very wary eye.  I’m so glad that “Chappaquiddick” did not disappoint.

July 18, 1969.  While the world waits as Apollo 11 heads towards the moon, the mood is festive on Chappaquiddick Island, a spur of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.  It’s a reunion of sorts for the Boiler Room Girls, a dedicated group of young women that campaigned long and hard for Robert Kennedy in 1968.  Joining the women are several members of RFK’s campaign staff, including his younger brother, Ted (Clarke).  As the film’s opening montage tells us, the Kennedy boys, from oldest brother Joe – a Navy pilot who died in World War II, John – our 35th President and Bobby, who died before he could accomplish the great deeds he set out to do, had all died young, leaving Ted to carry the family mantle.  It is something he is reluctant to do, but he is also contemplating running for President in 1972.

Also at the party is pretty Mary Joe Kopechne (Kate Mara), one of Bobby’s strongest supporters.  She and Ted talk for a while and then the two leave the party, get into Ted’s car, and drive away.  Hours later, Ted will return alone and on foot.  He will tell those who greet him “I’m not going to be President.”

A solid film that keeps you guessing on the facts, “Chappaquiddick” is an unbiased attempt to tell the story everyone thinks they know.  The story is helped along by solid direction and a cast that embodies more than imitates the characters.  Clarke does a fine job as Kennedy, nailing the mannerisms and accent perfectly.  As Kennedy cousin (and family fixer) Joseph Gargan (from the Fitzgerald side of the family) Ed Helms gives a fine dramatic performance.  Also so nice to see Jim Gaffigan, who was so great in “Chuck,” continue his journey to dramatic actor as family friend Paul Markham.  And Bruce Dern, in a role that’s almost wordless, is still stern and tough as family patriarch Joseph Kennedy.

The Dike Bridge

As an added bonus, if you’re a fan of the film “Jaws” – and if you’ve ever read my stuff you know it’s my favorite film – you’ll get to see a lot of Edgartown exactly as it appears in the film.  Even the real life area doctor, Robert Nevin, who played the town doctor in the film, rates a mention.

Finally, and this is just a mention, but I’ve been to Chappaquiddick and I’ve driven over the Dike Bridge.  Sober.  In broad daylight.  It’s still pretty narrow if you ask me.  If you don’t believe me, give it a look yourself.  And while you’re there, stop and pay your respects at the grave of Pipit, the dog from “Jaws.”

Pipits Grave. I wasn’t kidding.

Film Interview: Director Susan Walter talks about her debut feature, “All I Wish”

 

After almost three decades working behind the scenes on other people’s films, Susan Walter has finally gotten to sit in the big chair.  As writer and director of the new film “All I Wish,” she called the shots and achieved a dream.

 

While promoting the film, which is now in theatres and also available on Video on Demand, she took time out to talk with me about finally being in charge.

 

Mike Smith:  Please tell me that Tony Goldwyn isn’t really that bad of a singer. (NOTE:  In the film, Goldwyn tries his hand at karaoke, much to the chagrin of anyone in earshot.)

 

Susan Walter:  (laughs) Tony Goldwyn is a brilliant singer!  The first time I talked to him about that scene, he said to me “you know I can sing, right?”  He wanted everyone to know that he could sing.

 

MS:  Where did you get the idea for the film?

 

SW:  I’m a huge fan of “When Harry Met Sally.”  It’s one of my favorite films of any genre’.  And what I love about it is that it takes these two characters and looks at how the spend time together over a long period of time.  So I thought what would happen if I showed characters that not only got to know each other but got to know themselves over a long period of time.  And I picked each period beginning on a birthday because your birthday is a time when you look at your life.  The stakes are super high on your birthday.

 

MS:  Most people, when they think of romantic comedy, don’t readily think of Sharon Stone, who is more known for tougher roles.  What made you cast her?

 

SW:  Sharon cast herself.  (laughs)  Literally.  She got the script originally when it was written for her character to be in her 20s, and I wanted somebody tough and vibrant to play the mother.  I sent her the script and offered her the mother and she called me and said, “I’m not playing the mother…I’m playing the lead!”  And I got chills all over my body because I knew that she was right.  She felt really connected to the character and she really spoke passionately about why she had to do it.  So that’s the version of the movie that got made.

 

MS:  Which also became a bonus because you got to work with Ellen Burstyn.

 

SW:  We were so lucky that Ellen responded so well to the script.  Sharon was so passionate about having her and when we sent it to her she responded right away.  Though Ellen’s character appears tough as nails in the film she also has a vulnerability that you can feel.  You can feel the love that she has for her daughter and it was something beautiful for me to watch.

 

MS:  You’ve spent decades working behind the scenes until you finally got the opportunity to direct a feature.  Was the experience everything you thought it would be?

 

SW:  I have to tell you, I was totally nervous into the lead-up of the movie.  I was worried.  Could I do the job?  Did I have the energy?  It takes an incredible amount of stamina to direct a feature film.  You’re on your feet all day and you need every corner of your brain to do the job.  I got so much incredible support from my cast, especially Sharon.  They made it effortless.  It was like being weightless.  I entrusted them with their characters.  I was just there as a sounding board if they had a question about a line or a moment.  The experience of directing was almost effortless.

 

MS:  You’ve worked with several name directors in the past, including the late Garry Marshall.  Did you learn anything from them that you used on your set?

 

SW:  The one thing I learned from Garry in regards to actors is to just let them play.  Make them feel safe and let them play.  And when they had an idea, it was always “yes.”  He may not have agreed with it, but he would always say, “let’s try it.”  That was the way he worked and I think some of it rubbed off on me.  I said “yes” a lot to my actors.  We played a lot.  And I think you can feel how free they felt when you watched the film.

 

MS:  What are you working on next?

 

SW:  I wrote a movie with a friend of mine who is an actress and an extremely hilarious human being.  It’s an “R” rated ensemble comedy that we’re putting together now.  Hopefully we can start it soon.  I hope it doesn’t take another fourteen years.

Actor Jimmy Bellinger Talks About His Role In The Film “Blockers”

Jimmy Bellinger is an actor who has appeared in a variety of commercials, films and, television series including “The Middle” and “Parks and Recreation”. In the newly released film “Blockers” starring Leslie Mann and John Cena, Jimmy plays the role of Chad a nerdy yet confident high school student. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jimmy recently about his character and the film and also about his widely popular Skittles commercial.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the film “Blockers” and your character Chad?

Jimmy Bellinger: “Blockers” is a fun, raunchy sort of coming of age story that follows three parents and their daughters. We first see the girls as young children and then as teenagers getting ready to attend the prom. The girls decide they want to lose their virginity and make a pact to do so. The girl’s dates are not aware that this is set to happen and it turns into this crazy thing when the parents find out and attempt to stop them. My character Chad is sort of a dorky guy but he is very confident. He loves to dance and be a showman. Chad also loves a good fedora!

AL: How did this role come about for you?

JB: It was actually quite a long process. I auditioned a few times over the course of two months before officially getting the offer. Originally I read for a character that’s not in the story anymore. I then went back and read for the role of Chad. I actually did two auditions that day as they brought me back in the afternoon to read with a group of girls auditioning for the Sam role. None of those girls ended up in the film and I didn’t hear anything for a couple weeks until they brought me back to read with a different group of girls. This whole time I was never really sure if I was going to get the role or not because they could have been seeing other people that I didn’t know about. A week or so later I found out I got the part and also that they recast all three girls and the other two guys. I was lucky that I made it and am very happen that things worked out for me the way that they did.

AL: Over that time did the script change in any way?

JB: Yes it did. Originally there was this completely different character in the script and that role had been cut out so there were definitely a lot of changes made from the time I first read the script to what ended up being in the film. Things were added and locations changed but the film is still just as funny as when I first read for it and, that was what interested me in the project from the start.

AL: Were you allowed creative freedom with the character or were you asked to stay to the scripted material?

JB: There was certainly creative freedom. Yes there was a script for the character they wrote but I feel like unless you are playing a real person that existed somewhere in time you bring in pieces of yourself to each role you pay. I feel like most people want you to bring your own traits as an actor to their character. That’s essentially your job. You have ideas and there are scripted pieces so you start there and once you get going you might come up with some other things that help the character and story. The film’s director Kay Cannon is an extremely talented writer so if we weren’t pitching ideas she was coming up with things to try or add. We shot a lot of different versions of each scene so you really didn’t know what will be in the final film until you see it.

AL: The film has a very comedic cast. What was it like on set between takes?

JB: It was fun! Sets are all very similar because the days are long and when you are not shooting you are hanging out with the other cast and crew joking and having a good time. You get to talk with and meet a lot of different people. The cast was great as were the crew and, being that we were shooting a comedy and not a drama or something really serious everyone was just very relaxed and the mood was light.

AL: You also are currently the face of Skittles and appear in the hilarious Skittles-pocks commercial. How did that opportunity come about and, will you be reprising that role in upcoming ads?

JB: That came about much like this film through a regular audition. I went in to read for the part and they paired us up randomly with the girls who were their reading for the other part. I ended up being with the girl who also ended up in the commercial. After the first audition I got a call back and I could tell that they liked me because I read with the first girl again as well as a couple others. When we shot it even though it was such a short spot we tried a bunch of different things. The lines were there but I got to have a lot of fun playing within the confines of them. I had no idea what made it into the commercial until it came out. The ad started on the internet and then they started airing it and then they stopped. That usually happens after some time with commercials but then they decided to renew it and it has been playing non-stop. I am completely fine with it. Some people think it’s funny; some people think its gross or a combination of the two. I think that they are probably all right but I think that’s kind of the appeal of it as it’s weird but quick and easy. It’s just crazy how big it has become and seeing how excited people get amazes me. In terms of reprising the role that really on them however I will happily be paid to wear more skittles on my face. I am fine with that.

AL: Are there any other projects you have been working on that you would like to mention?

JB: There are some things in the works but I can’t really talk too much about those right now however, I did do an episode of the Nickelodeon show “Night Squad”. My episode won’t air until Halloween time but I do want to let people know it will be coming out and when they can look for it.

For more info on Jimmy Bellinger you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @JimmyBellinger

Film Review: “Blockers”

 

BLOCKERS

Starring: Leslie Mann, John Cena and Kathryn Newton

Directed by: Kay Cannon

Rated: R

Running time: 1 hrs 42 mins

Universal

 

Ah, prom night. A night of magic, music and, if you are three very anticipatory young girls, the night you plan on losing your virginity. Unless your parents find out that is.

 

We first meet Julie (Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam(antha) (Gideon Adlon) as they arrive for the first day of kindergarten. Though the girls are nervous, they aren’t as upset as their parents. Julie’s mom, Lisa (Mann) is a single mom who has devoted her life to her child. Kayla’s pop Mitchell (Cena) is a sports-loving guy who isn’t afraid to show emotions. And Sam’s dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) is never afraid to take a drink, no matter the time of the day. The girls become best pals and before you know it, they’re now seniors in high school preparing for the prom, graduation and college. And sex.

 

A funny film that doesn’t treat the youngsters like, well….youngsters, “Blockers” is the female version of “Porkys” without Buela Balbricker. The young ladies decision is not made in haste. They each have a reason to “go all the way.” One is love. Another is curiosity. And the third is a litmus test. You see, one of them is a lesbian and is afraid to act on her feelings. I won’t give away anything more but I will say that the people behind “Love, Simon” could have surely taken some pointers in dealing with the way her feelings and sexual curiosities are handled.

 

The fun part here are the parents, especially pro wrestler Cena, who is hilarious as he is large. Mann is also strong as the mother who is afraid to let her child leave and Barinholtz as a father trying to reconnect with a daughter he clearly underestimated.

 

The film is well paced and the supporting cast, especially the three “lucky” boys, keep the film moving as well.  If I had any qualm with the film it was the constant reminders of other Universal films that kept showing up on screen.  From movie posters (“16 Candles,” “Love Actually”) on the wall to just random mentions of, among others, “American Beauty” and the “Fast and the Furious” series, it was a little heavy handed to me.  Still, the film is definitely worth a trip to the local cinema this weekend.

Film Review “Baaghi 2”

          

Baaghi 2 is the sequel to the movie Baaghi with the same male lead Tiger Shroff but the female lead being replaced by Disha Patani for Shraddha Kapoor. It is an action thriller film and it is the remake of the film Kshanam, a Telugu movie. The movie revolves around the soldier Ronnie and fights against drug tycoons and gofers to save the daughter of his former girlfriend.

As the movie is worth a watch, so you can check out PVR movie offers on online ticket bookings and enjoy your tickets at very affordable prices.

Star Cast of Baaghi 2

Tiger Shroff: Handsome Hunk Tiger Shroff is a Hindi film actor but he is also very famous for his dance and stunts. He made his debut in the film Heropanti for which he was nominated for Filmfare best debut Actor-Male and won 5 awards including the IIFA and Big Star Entertainment award. He also appeared in 3 music videos in which he was admired for his dance moves.

Disha Patani- Disha Patani grabbed the hearts of all young boys after she appeared in the film M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. Being the heartthrob of teenagers, she won several awards for her role in the film M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. She appeared in a music video along with Tiger Shroff.

Prateik Babbar: Prateik Babbar is an actor who has appeared in films like Dum Maro Dum, Ekk Deewana Tha, Aarakshan and more. He is playing the role of an antagonist in the film.

Manoj Bajpayee: Manoj Bajpayee works predominantly in the Hindi film industry but has also appeared in Tamil and Telugu. He is also playing the antagonist role in the film.

The film is directed by Ahmed Khan and Sajid Nadiadwala produced the film under the production title Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment. Ahamed Khan is also a producer, choreographer, writer, and actor.

Critic Review of Baaghi 2

Baaghi 2 received mixed reviews from the audience. While some claim the movie to be one of the best action movies, some feel that the action is slightly slower paced. The first half is completely different from the second half. The movie and Tiger Shroff tops in jumping, kicking, punching, wielding knives, bombs, and guns but falls when it comes to emotion.

The Times of India states that the movie is little long and they could have improved the taut screenplay and editing.  Bollywood Hungama claims that Tiger’s performance is spectacular and extraordinary but the screenplay is not engaging and convincing. The cinematography of the movie is eye-catching and the songs are just okayish.

The Indian Express reviews the movie as a trouble with full-on masala film in search of a plot is clear in the way the film unfolds. Though the film is a remake of the Telugu film, the fillings are all strictly Bollywood: the attempt to create difference gets diluted. The NDTV states that Tiger Shroff roars and Disha Patani is pretty but the movie is like 2.5 hours of stunt sequence.

The story of Baaghi 2

The film starts with two masked men brutally attacking Disha Patani ( Neha) and at the same time, we have the introduction of Tiger Shroff who is an Army officer (Ronnie aka Ranveer Pratap Singh) in Kashmir.  Then the hero is established as brave and fit army officer along with his love for the nation. The story of the film begins when Neha calls Ronnie and explains her attack and also asks him to help her out as her daughter would be kidnapped.

Then comes the flashback of Ronnie and Neha who meet each other in college. This is the part which has cute songs and cliche dialogues and we come to know the backstory of the two leads. Once the action sequence begins, we are taken to another level. The action scenes are the ones which set the mood of the film. Whatever may be the fight, Ronnie always saves the Indian Flag and proves that he is a true patriot. We are then introduced to the two antagonists of the movie, Manoj Bajpayee (Shergill) who plays the DIG and also Prateik Babbar (Sunny), who is a drug addict and Neha’s husband’s brother. Randeep Hooda plays the roles of a humorous cop. The plot starts to reveal around midway of the film where we come to know that Ronnie isn’t dealing with a simple kidnapping. There’s a series of crime that unties, one action sequence after another. Deepak Dobriyal as always stands out with his performance and he plays Ronnie’s assistant.

The film ends with Ronnie solving all the mysteries behind the kidnapping and finally saves Neha’s daughter.

Star Performance in Baaghi 2

Tiger is given more than enough to work with. The action scenes he performs are so real and there are high-voltage stunts galore and shows us how the action was meant to be. The story only highlighted the performance of Tiger Shroff and they did not utilize the Randeep Hooda and Manoj Bajpayee. However, Deepak Dobriyal gave the best performance in the movie as always.

Direction and Music Review of Baaghi 2

Baaghi 2 is loaded with action and drama but the script is badly written and crummy direction by Ahmed Khan makes it a dreary matter. The lack of strong direction from has caused in both the antagonists feint a bit.

The movie has 6 soundtracks. The background score is composed by Julius Packiam and the music is composed by Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Mithoon, Gourov-Roshin, Sandeep Shirodkar and Pranaay Rijay. The album was released on T-series on March 20, 2018. The songs and music are good but they disturb the flow of the film. For a detailed review of music read the link below.

http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/movie/baaghi-2-2/songs/music-critic-review/

Box Office Collection of the movie

The box office collection of the film is higher than expected. The movie earned Rs 25.1 crore making it the biggest single day and opening day of 2018 beating Padmaavat. After the first day, the collection slowly went down by 20%. Then gradually the collection decreased. The movie became the 2nd highest Opening Weekend grosser on Box Office to collect 73.10 crores. On an opening day, Baaghi 2 made 2.11 crore in UAE.

Trivia and Rating of the film

Here are some interesting trivia about the film

  • Tiger Shroff went to Hong Kong to train martial arts under Tonny Ching to be perfect for his character Ronnie.
  • Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani made an eccentric entry in a helicopter at the trailer launch of the film in Mumbai.
  • This is the first film for the rumored lovebirds Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani.

The film was rated 2.5/5 stars by The Times of India and 1 out of 5 stars by Hindustan Times. IMDB gave a 3-star rating on 5 and Rotten Tomatoes a 2 star on 5.

How to book tickets

You can go to the theatre and book or you can just book it through pvrcinemas.com. It is always better to book your tickets and get your seats reserved beforehand. The following are the steps to book tickets for Baaghi 2.

  1. Go to pvrcinemas.com
  2. Enter your login details and choose your city.
  3. Then search Baaghi 2.
  4. Then select the number of seats and choose the seats you want.
  5. Then proceed to pay or enter the promo code if you have any.
  6. Then select your mode of payment.
  7. Once the payment is done, you will receive the message with the booking details.

Conclusion

Baaghi 2 amazes you but it is not well-structured.  The story has many loopholes. But the film stuck to its genre. If you are someone who loves action films, then you would not be bored of the film. This film is for action lovers and you can surely kill time watching the movie.

 

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