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Posts Tagged ‘Rom-com’

Just Friends” (2005) — movie review
Today’s review is for the “Christmas” rom-com, “Just Friends” staring Ryan Reynolds as Chris Brander and Amy Smart as Jamie Palamino – the two love interests.  Other actors of note are Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Chris Marquette as Mike Brander (Ryan / Chris’ younger brother) and Julie Hagerty as Carol Brander (Ryan / Chris’ mother).  In full disclosure mode: I thought this movie starred Reynolds and Kate Hudson.  I didn’t read the promo and I was expecting Hudson for the first ten minutes.  So, she (Hudson) never shows up and instead we get Smart who is (to me) more of a “Hallmark Movie” / girl next door rom-com female lead.  In absolutely full honestly, this whole movie seems like the production value of a Hallmark Movie — not BAD, but not really good, either.
The movie revolves around the idea of if / whether two lifelong childhood friends (a beautiful girl and an overweight nerd), who separate for ten years after high school can meet again and become more than “just friends“.  The movie opens with a high school graduation party and Chris awkwardly declaring his “love” for Jamie.  Embarrassed by all the other teens at the party, Chris vows to leave town and make something of himself.  The obvious problem with this opening is getting two actors in their late 20’s (I’d guess 28 or 29) to play kids of 18.  Even in a “fat-suit”, Reynolds doesn’t look like a teen.  He also doesn’t look fat.  And, putting Smart in a cheer-leading outfit doesn’t make her look young, either.
We flash-forward ten years and Chris is in California, has lost a bunch of weight and has become a famous music producer / agent / publicist.  (I wasn’t exactly clear what he did.)  Through the stupidity of his current client (Anna Faris) he ends up back near his home town and stuck because she has set fire to the jet they were traveling in.  This is just before Christmas, so Chris decides to take his client to his parents home while the repairs get done.  (Okay, so it’s a stretch…)  And, then we get to meet his ditzy mom, played by Julie Hagerty.  My first reaction was: “Wow! It’s the flight attendant from ‘Airplane’!”  We also get to meet little brother: Mike.  Mike happens to be a mad-fan of the client, with her posters and magazine pictures lining his bedroom walls.  Mike and Chris have a “typecast” brothers-always-fight-and-slag-each-other thing going on.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention Chris’ response to the party is reflected in LA where he is a cad with women, a jerk around co-workers and for some unknown reason, a hockey star in an amateur / friendly league.  It’s only “unknown” at the time, this becomes a plot device a few minutes later in the film.  Actually, the entire movie is a series of plot devices which are introduced from left field and which then become a part of a (and sometimes two) major scene(s) later in the film.
Anyway, the two friends meet again and “suddenly” Jamie is attracted to Chris.  They agree to a lunch date – cause opposite-sex friends “do” lunch; potential lovers “do” dinner dates.  Which leads to a kids hockey game; which leads to an accident; which leads to the competing love interest (Chris Klein) – who happens to be an EMT.  So, blah, blah, blah…  Chris and Jamie admit their love for each other and happily ever after.
And, that’s about it.  From start to finish almost nothing is predictable.  What?  But, didn’t you just say…?
Okay.  This is a “rom-com” so almost everything is going to be predictable.  And, it ALL is.  The kicker is that it is actually entirely predictable, but still funny.  In a strange, bad acting, bad writing, crappy props foreshadowing kind of way, the movie works and it IS funny.  Not side-splitting, lose your breath funny, but just dumb enough or silly enough to prompt a smile, a chuckle or a snort / short belly-laugh funny.
Final recommendation: medium. This is more of a com-rom than a rom-com, but that’s okay.  Actually, I’m pretty sure, I prefer it that way.  The movie ends with Reynolds doing a closing credits song / lip-sync.  I guess this closing credits scene is kind of his “thing” as he also did it in “The Proposal” and his Deadpool movies.  I am now “officially” a Ryan Reynolds fan.  I loved him in “Deadpool” and “The Hitman’s Bodyguard“, enjoyed him in the Deadpool sequel, enjoyed him in “The Proposal“, liked him in “Green Lantern” and I thought he was okay in the X-man movie. I now have to look out for some of his dramatic roles to see if he’s any good in those.  If anyone reading this has any recommendations, please leave me a comment…
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On This Day In:
2018 Daydreams And Wanna-Be’s
Or Work For #45
2017 Summer Pale
2016 Ain’t It Funny
2015 At Both Ends
2014 Whiner(s)
2013 Just Passing Through
2012 Dog-gone Heaven
2011 Occasional, Sad Results

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips”  (1969)  —  movie review
This movie is a musical adaptation of the novel about the life of a schoolteacher, Mr. Chipping, written by the James Hilton.  The book was first adapted into movie form back in 1939 (also a great movie).  This version is a modification of both the novel and the original version.  It’s placed later in history – around World War II instead of WWI; Chipping is married longer; meets his wife differently; and, it’s a musical (instead of a “normal” drama / romance movie).  I have not read the novel, but I have seen the 1939 version several times before.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to find it somewhere and watch it again so I can do a review from a fresh viewing.  This was my first viewing of this movie!
Mr. Chipping is a staid and stern housemaster at an English public school.  (That’s a “private” school to those of us in the U.S.)  The boarding school is where the upper crust of society send their boys to learn to be proper British gentlemen.  Chipping teaches Latin and Greek.  He gets talked into going to a play to see the future bride of a friend.  The lady doesn’t realize this is the “arrangement”.  Chipping unknowingly embarrasses himself and his friend.   Chipping goes on his holiday (vacation) to Pompeii, where he coincidentally meets the lady again.  As he is an expert on Greece, she asks him to be her tour guide for the day – which he does.  They hit it off and she falls in love with him (and he her).  Blah, blah, blah.   Mild comedy and laughter ensues.  They marry and she returns to school with him.  They become popular at the school.  She dies during the war.  He spends the remaining years of his life at the school.
The movie stars Peter O’Toole as Arthur Chipping (“Mr. Chips”), Petula Clark as Katherine Bridges / Chipping, Michael Redgrave as The Headmaster, George Baker as Lord Sutterwick (the wealthy donor who is at odds with Chipping due to his own previously sordid background), Siân Phillips as Ursula Mossbank (a famous actress who has a “background” with Lord Sutterwick), and Michael Bryant as Max Staefel (a German teacher who “must” return to Germany).  Phillips is “simply marvelous” in her take on being a famous actress.  Bryant is also impressive in his subtle expressions.  In fact, I repeated several scenes just to re-watch his facial reactions.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work as a musical?  And, did I enjoy a rom-com musical?  Yes.  Mostly yes.  Emphatically yes!  I know I’ve seen Peter O’Toole in other roles (obviously “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Becket“), but I really think this is my new favorite role for him.  He was nominated for the Oscar and a Golden Glove for Best Actor for this role.  One of his eight Oscar nominations for Best Actor.  (He holds the lifetime record for nominations without a win.)  Interestingly, his wife (Siân Phillips) at the time was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role (Mossbank).  He won the Golden Glove.  She did not.
As a musical, the movie is not “great” – in my opinion.  With the exception of “Fill the World With Love” (see videos below) only a couple of the other songs were entertaining, let alone memorable.  This is partly why the movie was panned by the critics on its release.  In fact, I understand several of the songs were removed from the theatrical release because initial audience reviews were so poor.  The songs have been re-added for the “TCM” version which I watched.  The result is the movie is a “classic” movie with an introduction, intermission and exit production which add almost 15 minutes to the viewing time.  The total run time I watched was over the 2hrs 35min of the “official” run time.  But, it is worth it!!
Final recommendation:  VERY highly recommended.  While at one level, this is the story of one man’s struggle with the apparent mediocrity of his life, at a more profound level it is a love story – personal (husband and wife) and general (Chippings love for knowledge, teaching, manners and character).  I am sure some will find this a bit of a “chic flick” and a tear-jerker.  I did not find it the former.  I did find it the latter.  But then, I often find movies about character and integrity (and love stories) to be tear-jerkers.  So, get the Kleenex ready.
As a “bonus” for this review I am including two videos.  The first two verses of this song are performed by: Petula Clark (from the 1969 musical: “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”).  The last verse is performed by Peter O’Toole and is slightly different from the “actual” lyrics as he is singing to his deceased wife at the end of the film.  (Listen for the “Shhsh” and watch for Bryant / Staefel’s expression during Clark’s singing.  Priceless!!)
[I noted today (3 Feb 2020) that the original 2nd video is no longer available on YouTube, so I have replaced it with Peter O’Toole singing – but not “appearing” in the movie.  If I ever purchase this movie, I will consider uploading the excerpt from my copy to YouTube.  We’ll see…  —  KMAB]
I sang this song many times back in my senior year of high school.  It was the first year of our high school choir – and they were taking anyone who was willing to volunteer to sing in public.  LOL.  I did not know the song was only a few years old.  Nor did I know it came from a movie / musical.  But then, I had not seen either version of this movie – 1939 or 1969.  I think I’m better for now having seen both.  If you can find them, I highly recommend them!
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On This Day In:
2018 Stock Market Sets Another Record Under #DumbDonald
#LyingDonald: About That Special Prosecutor Testimony
2017 We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
2016 But You Have To Learn It Feels Good
2015 Never Stop
2014 Caution
2013 Treat Her Like A Lady
2012 Build New Worlds
2011 I Grok Elegance
Standing Relish

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I like rom-coms and I like fantasy movies.  Today’s reviews are for two movies which combine the rom-com and the guardian angel (fantasy) genres:  “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” and “Heaven Can Wait“.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1941 and (as far as I know) was one of the first movies where the idea of an angel or guardian angel featured as a prominent plot point in the film.  The movie stars Robert Montgomery as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a boxer and the “hero”), Rita Johnson as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), John Emery as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), James Gleason as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer / manager), Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Edward Everett Horton as Messenger 7013 (the angel in training) and Claude Rains as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).
The premise is a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a boxer dies before his championship fight because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (becoming champ).  The problem is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his title and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a black-and-white film which is overacted and simple to follow, but also genuinely funny and enduring.  I am quite certain I’d seen this movie in my youth, but I have no idea when it would have been.  I watched this with my wife, (who likes old movies but doesn’t normally like comedies,) and she both enjoyed it and actually laughed a couple of times.  You could knock me over with a feather…  Her reaction:  “This is the kind of movie I would have watched with my nana when I was young.”  Final recommendation: strong.  While not intended to be a “period piece”, this certainly is one – and it’s a pretty good one on that alone.  Throw in the rom-com and you’ve got a movie worth watching with your family.
Heaven Can Wait  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1978 and is a pretty straight forward remake of the original with minor character changes.  The movie stars Warren Beatty as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a American football quarterback and the “hero”), Dyan Cannon as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), Charles Grodin as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), Jack Warden as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer), Julie Christie as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Buck Henry as “the Escort” (instead of “Messenger 7013” – the angel in training) and James Mason as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).  I have no idea why two Brits were chosen to play the main angels in both films.  I think it was for the accent – to make them sound more heavenly.  (LOL)
The premise(s) remain a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a quarterback dies before his championship game (the Super Bowl) because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (winning the Super Bowl).  The problem (again) is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his Super Bowl and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a color film which is somewhat overacted (particularly by Cannon and Grodin – for laughs) and not as funny as the original (Warden isn’t as funny as Gleason), but it was nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Actor and Best Picture) and won one (not one of the main Oscars).  I saw this movie in my youth during its original release.  I did not watch this version with my wife who felt she didn’t want to “spoil” the memory of the original by watching the updated version.  Final recommendation: strong.  While not quite up to the original, it’s a pretty good remake.  And, again, a family film.
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On This Day In:
2017 All Greek To Me
2016 Judgment
2015 I Love Bacon, Too
2014 The Wee Bit
2013 Reading Rules
2012 Cadet Prayer
2011 Easy To Tell
2010 A NEW Lion In The Senate (Channeling Mr. Smith)
Inception Redux
A Quick Hit Of Stats

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