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Cars 2 Movie Review

Make sure you arrive early to see “Cars 2”.  You just can’t miss the “Toy Story” gang in an all new short called,  “Hawaiian Vacation.”   Woody, Buzz & company are arguably Pixar’s most beloved characters and the studio has done an amazing job of continuing their adventures.

Movie critics are so slimy.  They’re trashing “Cars 2.”  I absolutely do not agree.  I’m watching this movie thinking, this movie is better than the original.  The story weaves in themes like, mechanical sabotage, international espionage & most importantly, sticking by your friends while not trying to change them .  Sir Michael Caine has the perfect voice as Finn McMissile, a slick 007-type British agent car.   Mater (Larry, The Cable Guy) has a much bigger role this time around.

There’s yet another terrific message targeted specifically to young people.  Director John Lassiter is sticking his neck out, really far.  The villain in “Cars 2” isn’t an evil hot rod, or a ill-tempered tractor. No way. The Bad Guy here is BIG OIL.  That’s right.  At its core, this movie is about implementing an eco-friendly biofuel called, ALLINALL as an alternative to fossil fuel.  It’s all about saving planet Earth.   This movie will inspire millions of young people to rethink energy & seek a new path.  For that reason, plus the fact that it’s a solid movie, I’d say “Cars 2” is a must see.  You can save money by seeing it in 2D.  It’ll be every bit as good.

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins Movie Review

Can Jim Carrey crack the world up flanked by a bunch of real & computer generated penguins?  I’d say the answer is not really, but it’s still worth checking out.  Jim Carrey at one time was the ‘Go To’ funnyman with yuck-it-up hits like ‘The Mask,’ ‘Dumb & Dumber’ & of course, “Ace Ventura.’   In “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,’ we get glimpses of Carrey’s signature humor.  I did laugh a few times, but it’s not hilarious by any means.  In this case, that’s OK with me.

From my seat, ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ isn’t supposed to be anything like those movies I just mentioned.  This one is a straight forward, warm – fuzzy family movie.  The book, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ was originally published back in 1938.  Since then, it has never waned in popularity.  It’s a staple at elementary schools to this day.

At the heart of it, this is a father/son story.  Carrey plays Tom Popper, a divorced overachiever who is all about becoming a partner at his law firm.  He actually reminds me of the lawyer he played in ‘Liar, Liar’ Fletcher Reid.  In his pursuit of success, Popper loses sight of what’s really important: his family.

Popper’s Pop leaves this world with a parting gift to his son.  A special delivery:  Six Gentoo Penguins.  They wreak havoc with his career while steering him back on the right track: Making amends with his family.  Behind the scenes, the penguins were so very well taken care of on set.  The temperature was kept at a chilly 36 degrees.  You think movie stars are spoiled with their huge trailers? These penguins were treated right. A special living habitat was created to ensure proper space, a swimming pool & even a training area.  This facility was monitored 24/7 during the 11-week New York City shoot.

It was very nice to see Angela Lansbury in a supporting role.  She did the movie for 2 reasons: (1) She’s a great admirer of Jim Carrey’s work.  (2) She loves working on projects that kids will enjoy.  One thing I will say, Jim Carrey is no dummy.  He let the penguins have the starring role.  It’s impossible to upstage Captain, Loudy, Stinky, Lovey, Bitey & Nimrod. Why would anybody even try?

‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ is solid family fare.  That alone is a rare thing these days.

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Super 8 Movie Review

“Super 8” is a simple love story.  There’s a 14 year old kid, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) who’s head-over-heels for Alice. (Elle Fanning)  Their puppy love is just about ready to take flight.  Oh yeah,  there’s a snag.  There’s a sinister creature threatening the residents of the blue-collar town of Lillian, Ohio.

Set your WayBack Machine to 1976.  By now you’ve heard the film focuses on a group of kids making a movie with their Super 8 Camera.  The usual suspects are present & accounted for.  Government Cover Up?  Check.  70’s Soundtrack hits? Check.  Ford Pinto in the foreground? Check.  The look of the film is perfect, especially on a skimpy$50 million dollar budget.

The kid actors are the ones who should get all the credit.  Director J.J. Abrams & his Ment0r Steven Spielberg know how to get the best performance for their cast.  I also love the rudimentary film making jargin.  These kids are under intense pressure and are cranking out amazing performances.  The movie does build very well throughout.  There are twists that I can’t tell you about. NO SPOILERS HERE.  Super 8 is a really good popcorn movie, but does lack surprise.  I’ll give it 3 1/2 stars out of five.

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The Hangover 2 Movie Review

Sometimes when you drink too much, you see double.   Seeing The Hangover 2 sober was my problem.  I wasn’t drunk, yet I was seeing double, as in the same movie twice.  This stings to write.  I, like millions of others, really love “The Hangover.”  It was clever, raunchy, funny & unpredictable.

Even though the scenario I’m about to present isn’t based in fact, it’s just a hunch, so humor me.  The original Hangover exploded 2 years ago.  Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms & Zach Galifianakis were up & comers.  Studio heads love money.  The box office tally only offered one option: Make a sequel as fast as you can.  I highly doubt The hangover was envisioned as a trilogy. I get tired of hearing that phrase.  I truly believe, director Todd Phillips was so wrapped up in the first movie, he didn’t look to the future.  He made the friggin’ best comedy in years!  Stu, Alan & Phil are The Wolfpack.  So when the suits came knocking for another night of binging with the boys on film, again this is my opinion, they had nothing.

That’s why we now have The Hangover 2.  Greed makes Hollywood crank out sequels before they’re ripe.  Instead of giving it a year to develop a decent story, they pronounce a release date, many times before a script has even been finalized.  I would’ve gladly waited a year or two to gain simple elements like surprise, unpredictability & most of all humor.

I went to see The Hangover 2 at a midnight screening sold out with Wolfpackers!  The energy was there.  The laughs were there, kinda sorta.  I, myself had a few chuckles.  The storyline so closely mirrored the original.  I’m surprised that writer/director Todd Phillips would make this movie.  I can’t believe the actors were pumped about the sequels’ script.  Hey, for $5 million dollars each, I’d probably give Todd a huge thumbs up, a wink & a big smile saying, this is the greatest comedic script in decades.  How did you make it so fresh?  Oh yeah, when do we start filming?

The Hangover 2 will make money. But this is the exact type of film that gives sequels a bad name.  Maybe, if I get really drunk & see it again, I won’t mind seeing double.  It may even ease the pain of paying $12 bucks for a 1/2 ass effort.

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Film Freak Trivia Fact: In France, the title of “The Hangover 2” is “The Very Bad Trip 2.”

Kung Fu Panda 2 Movie Review

Jack Black returns for another animated adventure as the Kung Fu Panda, Po.  This time around, Po needs to discover much about himself & who he really is.  Questions arise.  Where does Po comes from? Who are his parents? What ignites the unknown fear within himself?  How do you go about achieving life’s inner peace?  What’s Po’s destiny? Pretty heady stuff for kids, but that’s what I love about this film.

Themes woven into the fabric of the story are incredible learning tools for young people.   Even the youngest of kids benefit from seeing Po do things like facing his fears head on, or overcoming amazingly tough obstacles & sticking with your buddy no matter what happens.

Po goes head-to-head with an evil peacock named Shen, who’s driven to take over all of China.  Shen holds the key that may very well unlock the  secret to Po’s mysterious childhood.  No spoilers here.  The animation is excellent, giving Pixar a run for their money.  There are also varying types of animation styles within the film that prove to be very effective & adds wonderful layers of texture. The 3D stuff works fine, but if you’re paying for a large group, you’ll save money going 2D.  It’s every bit as good.

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Kung Fu Panda 2, what a great movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Review

The thing about the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies is this:  They’re Pirate/Zombie movies folks.  Why do people forget such a simple fact?  Rob Marshall takes over the directing chores for Gore Verbinski (who helmed the first three Pirate films.) Pirates,  Zombies & Mermaids with attitude, lots of attitude.  Before I forget, stay seated through the ending credits. There is a scene at the very end of the film.

It’s the 4th go round with good ol’ Captain Jack.  Johnny Depp was itchin’ to jump back in those old boots & set sail.  This time, it’s a quest for Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth.  Along for the race is peg-legged Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) I love how the Pirates ride gets woven into the movie’s scenery. You’ll know it when you see it.

Also, the cast was shaken up with the addition of Ian McShane as Blackbeard & Penelope Cruz as Angelica, a woman who knows Jack, & knows him all too well.  There’s also two superstar cameos.  One you already know, Keith Richards of the Stones returns as Jack’s father, Captain Teague.  The other cameo is all on you.

Captain Jack does lots of high altitude escaping. He swings, dangles, catapults & flies over just about anything & everything.  Hey, he’s a swashbuckling pirate with an uncanny sense of balance.  I don’t want to get into full details of the story.  I hate reading reviews that are nothing but long essays entitled SPOILER.  I’ve said enough.

If you liked Pirates 1,2 & 3, you’ll like 4.  If you didn’t like Pirates 1, 2 & 3, you’ll never learn, cuz you won’t like 4.  The first one is still the very best.  To get into a fantasy adventure movie such as this, you must be willing to do three things. (1) Suspend your disbelief  (2) just go with the flow & (3) take off your cynical hat. Remember, at the end of the day it’s still, just a Pirate/Zombie movie.  It’s not Oscar season people, it’s the summer.  Go on a seafaring voyage with Captain Jack. It’s the Pirates life for me & you too!

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Drink up me mateys, Yo Ho!

Bridesmaids Movie Review

The “Bridesmaids” chicks have serious intentions of knocking off  “The Hangover 2” boys for the funniest summer movie.  If this is to happen, the Hangover sequel had better be really damn funny.  If you liked movies like, “There’s Something About Mary,” “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” & “Superbad,” you’re good to go with “Bridesmaids.”  This ain’t for the faint of heart.  It’s Rated “R” for raunchy.   Kristen Wiig, co-writer, really ups her game as one of Hollywood’s funniest females.   She’s not afraid to look less than glamorous on the big screen & look like an ass.  That’s what comedy is.

I love awkward toasts.  The idea of a drunkard rambling in front of a mixed crowd always makes me laugh.  I immediately think of  Luke Wilson in “Old School,” you know the one.  The toast in “Bridesmaids” is just classic!  Also, amongst all the crazy hijinks in a comedy like this, there’s also really good acting mixed into the movie.

If you read the title, you already know what this movie is about.  Do yourself a favor:  Be on time!  I just wanna make sure you don’t miss the first 3 minutes.

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Prom Film Freak Movie Review

For me, the bar for high school movies has been set to a very high standard.  Cameron Crowe gave us “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” & then there’s the architect of 80’s teen angst on film, the late great John Hughes.  I’m so partial.  Many of Hughes’ films represent my own coming of age.  But what about today’s iPod  generation of young people?  “Prom” might very well resonate for them & I hope it does.

This is your basic good-girl-meets-bad-boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks story.  Originating from a small town in Michigan, Aimee Teegarden is Nova, an overachiever hell bent on creating an unforgettable Starry Night Prom, for all the right reasons.  After an accident, the prom squad is forced to re-create ALL the decorations with a mere two weeks.

That’s when the school principal deals a fateful hand.  He cleverly creates a unique detention detail for slacker troublemaker, Jesse Richter (Thomas McDonell).   The detention?  Ah yes, to begrudgingly assist goody-goody Nova in recreating ALL the decorations.  Sparks fly, emotions run hot, ice thaws & allowe a forbidden love to blossum.

Sound corny enough for you? Well it is.  It’s so corny, but I think kids anywhere between the ages of 10-19 are going to enjoy this movie.   It’s for them.  I can see young moviegoers liking the characters & having a good time.  Critics will trounce.  But at the end of the day, who really cares about movie critics?  Disney’s “Prom” is for high schoolers.  Cynical chaperones types should probably sit this one out.  Rated PG, not PG-13.  Very safe stuff here.

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Gary Busey is on board for PIRANHA 3DD now in production in Wilmington, NC.

As more potential fish bait, Busey joins the other cast members announced earlier this week including Danielle Panabaker (THE CRAZIES), Matt Bush (ADVENTURELAND), Chris Zylka (THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN), David Koechner (ANCHORMAN), Meagan Tandy (UNSTOPPABLE) and others.

PIRANHA 3DD shows its teeth in theatres nationwide on November 23, 2011.  The feast is on this Thanksgiving.

Here’s Gary Busey at his best in “Lethal Weapon” with (Now Douchebag) Mel Gibson.
About The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company (TWC) was created by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films Corporation in 1979.  TWC is a multi-media company that officially launched on October 1, 2005.  Dimension Films, the genre label that was founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, is also included under the TWC banner.

During the Weinsteins’ tenure at Miramax Films, the company released some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful independent feature films which received 249 Academy Award® nominations and won 60 Oscars®, and have generated billions of dollars in worldwide box office receipts and billions more in home video sales.   In its history, Dimension Films has released some of the most successful franchises including Scream, Spy Kids and Scary Movie.

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The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Film Freak Movie Review

Morgan Spurlock has tapped into the fascinating subject of product placement in movies.  I’m always looking for a familiar brand of car, or a food chain or what brand name watch 007 happens to be wearing.  “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” doesn’t just dive in, it bellyflops into this world.  The cool thing here is, filmmakers really don’t want you to know too much about this hush hush revenue stream.  The premise here:  To create a movie solely based on advertising & marketing partnerships.

Spurlock turns out to be quite the sales hound.  In a rough economy, he roped in over 20 major sponsorships.  You’re walking into an infomercial & that’s exactly what Morgan Spurlock is promising.  The movie even contains (3) separate commercials.  I guarantee after seeing this movie, if you never noticed ads flung in your face, you’ll notice them now. Man, writing this up has made me thirsty.  I could sure go for some POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice.

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