Thursday, June 26, 2014

Clint Eastwood Saps All The Energy Out of This Goodfellas Wannabe: Our Review of "Jersey Boys" (2014)

Directed By: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby

Starring: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda, Erich Bergen, Christopher Walken

Rating: R for language throughout

Run Time: 2 hours, 14 minutes

Synopsis: Based on the hit Broadway show of the same name, Jersey Boys follows the ups and downs of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from their formation in Jersey to their money troubles with the mob and the fallout that ensued, all told from the perspective of the band members themselves.


Andrew: Hello readers! A few days ago Sarah and I checked out one of this past weekend’s new wide releases, Jersey Boys, an adaptation of the popular Broadway show of the same title. This film version, directed by none other than Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood of all people, stars John Lloyd Young as he reprises his original Broadway role as Frankie Valli, Vincent Piazza of Boadwalk Empire fame as Tommy DeVito and Christopher Walken.

Sarah, I think this will be a little bit of an interesting review since you have actually seen the Broadway show in New York City while I have never seen in any incarnation. So this was my first experience with the story. I’ll let you kick it off with what you thought, especially in comparison to the stage show.

Sarah: Well, I’ll start off by saying this: compared to the show…it’s not even close. The original show is a true musical. It not only chronicles the path to fame for the Four Seasons but also highlights their music and incorporates it in the show to really tell a story. In the movie, the music was just a background.

A: Just to interject real quick, to me this movie felt like more of a biopic in the vein of Walk the Line or Ray. And not unlike those movies, they used the music in more of a, “Hey, here’s them recording their first hit, here’s them in their first television performance,” etc.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stunning Visuals Can't Overcome a Weaker Story in This Sequel: Our Review of "How To Train Your Dragon 2" (2014)

Directed By: Dean DeBlois (How To Train Your Dragon

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Kit Harrington, Djimon Hounsou

Rating: PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor

Run Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Synopsis: Five years after becoming best of friends, a now 20-year-old Hiccup (Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless spend their time exploring the sky and discovering new lands. While on one of these explorations, Hiccup discovers the existence of two warring dragon masters: one a vicious Viking named Drago Bloodfist (Hounsou), who's trying to capture dragons to add to his vast dragon army, the other a mysterious dragon master and protector named Valka (Blanchett)…who happens to be Hiccup's long-lost mother.


Andrew: Hello readers! Earlier this weekend we caught How To Train Your Dragon 2, the sequel to 2010's hit Dreamworks Animation film How To Train Your Dragon (obviously). This is a film that was released last weekend but we weren't able to catch it until now.

Sarah, I don't know about you but this wasn't necessarily one that I was jumping in anticipation for, but more than anything I was curious to see what it would be like in 3D. What about you?

Sarah: Oh I was really excited for this one! I really liked the first one so I was looking forward to seeing where they would take this. I was curious about the 3D as well, and I am so glad that we decided to see it that way. 

From a visual standpoint, this movie was amazing. They were able to do some really cool things with the effects and it just made the whole world come alive. All of the new dragons were very cool and it was just fun to see what all the characters looked like now that it's been five years between stories.

One of the many stunning visuals in HTTYD2 is Hiccup's ability to fly alongside Toothless.

 But I have to say, the story lacked a little bit for me. We get to meet Hiccup's mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), who everyone thought was dead. Nope! Turns out she's just running this big dragon Humane Society and decided that was more important than her baby. I don't know about you but that just never set right with me. And the way Hiccup just kind of accepts it right away? Like what is that?!

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Six Pack Of... Our Favorite Dreamworks Animation Films!

Andrew: Hello dear readers! So because Sarah and I are going to hit up the local AMC tonight to catch How To Train Your Dragon 2 tonight, we figured it might be a fun exercise to figure out which Dreamworks Animation films were our personal favorites before we catch their latest one.

So, in full disclosure, Sarah and I figured out our own person Top 3 Dreamworks Animation films separately, we wrote up our little write-ups separately, and then she emailed hers to me so I could put together the post. We didn't give each other any clues about which films we were picking. Just so ya know.

Sarah: Ok, so this might be one of the tougher Six Packs that we have ever done. Picking just three of Dreamworks’ animated movies to call my favorite might prove to be a little difficult. But here we go.


1.) Shrek (2001) 

Number one definitely has to be Shrek. This movie is just so classic. It has a phenomenal cast that truly shines. But I think my favorite part about this movie, and all the ones following it, is that it pokes fun at all the Disney movies and, really, fairy tales in general. Shrek is a laugh-a-minute movie that I just remember just enjoying all the time as a kid. That has definitely translated into adulthood. Whenever I come across it on television, I immediately stop what I'm doing and watch it. 

It was such an original movie when it first came out. The poking fun at Disney hadn’t really been a big thing yet, because they were the powerhouse in animated movies. I really think Shrek changed all of that. There was kid comedy, sure, but there was also quick-witted adult humor as well making it fun for the whole family. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Back to School and Better Than Before: Our Review of "22 Jump Street" (2014)

Directed By: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Wyatt Russell

Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Synopsis: After struggling to find success after their first undercover gig, police officers Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) are ordered back to the Jump Street division run by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) to do the same kind of undercover mission they did so well the first time...but this time they're sent to college. Yup, just like the end of the first film said they would!


Sarah: Hello readers! We were back at the movies after a quick little weekend getaway to visit the family, and the other night we checked out this past weekend's big comedy blockbuster release, 22 Jump Street. 22 Jump Street is the much anticipated (by us at least) sequel to 2012's hit 21 Jump Street, the film reboot to the old popular television show starring Johnny Depp. 

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill once again star as undercover police officers Jenko and Schmidt, and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller returned to direct this, too. Andrew, this movie was packed with hilarious moments and even a little heart! What did you think of 22 Jump Street?

Andrew: Well first I think we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that 21 Jump Street was one of the earliest reviews we ever did for our blog. And back in 2012 we gave 21 Jump Street a 4.5/5 clapboard review. I stand by that grade because I still think it's a hilarious reboot of the old television series and was filled with great nods towards not only the TV show, but perfectly made fun of buddy cop movies, shoot 'em up action flicks, and subverting high school cliches while embracing all those things, too.

22 Jump Street does just as well by lampooning the idea of movie sequels, but it embraces it and all the college comedy tropes, too. I loved this new entry in the series and I want to say that I think they improved on the first one, even if a large part of this movie's success is that it's almost follows the first one beat for beat. What did you think, Sarah?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Jon Favreau's New Passion Project Left Us Salivating: Our Review of "Chef" (2014)

Directed By: Jon Favreau (Iron Man

Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale

Rating: R for language, including some suggestive references

Run Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Synopsis: Carl Casper (Favreau), a well-reknowned Los Angeles chef, receives a vicious review from a prominent food critic which starts a chain of events that results in Carl quitting his job and opening his own food truck in Miami with his best friend (Leguizamo) at the insistence of his ex-wife (Vergara) and son (Anthony).


Andrew: Hello dear readers! Sunday marked the third movie of the weekend for me and Sarah, we're hardcore like that. This time we checked out a film written by, directed by and starring Jon Favreau called Chef.

Sarah: It's a smaller film that has been out for a little while in the limited release phase but is now open to larger markets.

A: Right! Favreau (The Replacements) stars as Carl Casper, a famous and world-class chef who loses his job after a strong disagreement with his restaurant's owner, played by Dustin Hoffman, and subsequently gets into a very public argument with a food critic that gave him a scathing review...

S: And after some deep thinking, Carl decides to open his own food truck at the behest of/support from his ex-wife, played by the great Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) so he can get back to his passion of cooking.

A: So with the help of his best friend Martin, played by John Leguizamo (Ice Age), and his son Percy...

S: Whom he is not very close with and go on a cross-country road trip to get the truck back from Miami to Los Angeles and along the way discover his passion for cooking again along with a little father/son bonding time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cruise and Blunt Shine in Refreshing Alien Invasion Flick: Our Review of "Edge of Tomorrow" (2014)

Directed By: Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material

Run Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Synopsis: See below in the opening paragraphs


A: Hello dear readers! Sarah and I caught three films this past weekend, one of which was the teenage romance film The Fault in Our Stars (you can read our review of that HERE) on Friday night, and the second one of those was the new Tom Cruise sci-fi/action film Edge of Tomorrow. This is one I had been hearing great things about in the weeks leading up to its release, so suffice it to say I was excited to see this one. Before we get to the review, though, I feel like I need to explain the concept of the film just a bit.

Based on a 2004 Japanese novel called "All You Need is Kill," Edge of Tomorrow stars Cruise as Major William Cage, the head PR guy for a worldwide military called the United Defense Force that's fighting an invasion from a destructive alien race dubbed "Mimics." The UDF is losing the war by a large margin, with Europe almost completely invaded by the Mimics, and only having won one battle - the Battle of Verdun - thanks to the heroics of a soldier named Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, The Devil Wears Prada).

After refusing to be embedded with a troop on the front lines of a planned beach invasion called Operation Downfall, Cage is stripped of rank and sent to basic training the day before the invasion by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). There, Cage is thrust into the front lines of the invasion and promptly killed in action by an "alpha" Mimic.....then somehow wakes up again back at basic training the day before the invasion.

Despite attempts to tell everyone something strange is going on and that the impending invasion is doomed from the start, Cage keeps reliving the same two days over again. He finally approaches Vrataski after seeing her on the battlefield and discovers she, too, has experienced the same phenomenon thanks to her blood getting mixed with an alpha Mimic's blood and thereby gaining their power to manipulate time, which is how the Mimics have been winning the war so far, and how she was able to win the Battle of Verdun. From there they team up to learn how they can win Operation Downfall and, more importantly, the war.

Whew! That's a lot of words! And one of the more impressive parts about the film is that it's all summed up and explained very well in the first act better than I did just now. So Sarah, now that we've seen the film and I've done my best to set up the concept of the film, what did you think of Edge of Tomorrow?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Crowd-Pleasing Tear-Jerker for the Millenial Generation: Our Review of "The Fault in Our Stars" (2014)

Directed By: Josh Boone (Stuck in Love

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern

Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language

Run Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Synopsis: Based on the hit novel by John Green, about a teenage girl named Hazel (Woodley), suffering from terminal lung cancer, who finds a kindred spirit and first love in another cancer fighter, the outgoing and unconventional Augustus Waters (Elgort). Together they make the most of the limited and precious time they know they have left together.


Sarah: Hello readers! This past Friday night we decided to hit the movies to check out the newest book-to-chick flick to hit the big screen, The Fault in Our Stars, starring Shailene Woodley (The Descendents) and relative Hollywood newbie Ansel Elgort (Divergent). 

We neglected to remember that it was a Friday night…in the summer. So the theater was PACKED with teenage girls. This movie has been touted as being The Notebook of this decade. These are bold words, so we had to find out for ourselves. That, and this also happens to be based on my younger sister's favorite book. 

So Andrew, now that we've seen it and have lost about half our body weight in tears, what did you think?

A: Let me first say that I was surprised by the number of men that were in the theatre. It was one of the smaller theatres at our cineplex and was PACKED to the gills. But as we left I counted at least six other guys that were in there. More than I would've have guessed, really.

So as one of the at least seven guys that saw the movie in that theatre last night, I have to admit that I was a big fan of it. Did I shed a few tears? Absolutely, and it wasn't necessarily because of the star-crossed relationship between Woodley's Hazel Green Lancaster and Elgort's Augustus Waters, but because I found ALL of the relationships in the film to be quite touching in their portrayal and how the actors handled them.

Most of all I thought Woodley was phenomenal here and deserves to be in the discussion come Oscar time. What did you think of The Fault in Our Stars?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sarah & Andrew Are Divided on Disney's New "Sleeping Beauty" Retelling: Our Review of "Maleficent" (2014)

Directed By: Robert Stromberg 

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton

Rating: PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Synopsis: A re-imagining of the classic Sleepy Beauty tale from the perspective of Maleficent (Jolie). After her wings stolen by the man she thought was her true love, Stefan (Copley), so he could become king, Maleficent puts a familiar curse on the king's newborn daughter, Aurora (Fanning). After realizing she overreacted, Maleficent spends the next 16 years watching over the girl in hopes that the curse will run out.


Sarah: The other night we checked out this past weekend's new Disney release, Maleficent. This is one that I had been looking forward to and, I'm just going to let you all know this now, I'm going to be a little biased. Angelina Jolie is my lady crush. I tend to love her in every thing she makes, so going in, I had pretty much already decided how I felt about this movie. Not objective, I know, but I have to be honest with you, dear readers. 

But I know that you, Andrew, thought a little bit differently about this one. What did you think of Maleficent?

Andrew: Let me start off by saying that I didn't dislike it, but I didn't love it either, and here's why. There were many, many things about this film that bugged me in a way that I just couldn't shake, even after a night of sleeping on it.

First and foremost, I don't like that this film took one of Disney's most iconic, evil villains and basically said, "She's not really a villain! You should feel sorry for her because she lost her wings and was betrayed but the boy she loved!" What this does is essentially takes all the evil out of her. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

MacFarlane's New Film is Classic MacFarlane, For Good and Bad: Our Review of "A Million Ways to Die in the West" (2014)

Directed By: Seth MacFarlane (Ted

Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried

Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material

Run Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Synopsis: Albert (MacFarlane), a cowardly sheep-farmer, gets dumped by his girlfriend Louise (Seyfried) in favor of the more dashing and richer Foy (Harris). During a bar brawl, Albert steps up and saves the new girl in town, Anna (Theron), from being seriously hurt. Impressed by Albert's heroics and wanting to help him win Louise back, Anna helps train Albert in gun-shooting so he can win a duel with Foy. But unbeknownst to Albert, Anna is the reluctant wife of Clinch Leatherwood (Neeson), the deadliest outlaw in the land, and who will eventually be arriving in town.


Andrew: Hello dear readers! We're back yet again after seeing only one of this past weekend's two big releases, Seth MacFarlane's new comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West. This is MacFarlane's second feature film directorial effort following the smash hit that was Ted. This time he took things to the Old West and decided to cast himself in the star role of Albert, a cowardly sheep-farmer, but surrounded himself with some more than capable actors in Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson to name a few.

Sarah, as some of our readers might know, we're big fans of MacFarlane's work with Family Guy and we loved Ted. So we were certainly looking forward to seeing how this one would fare. And now that we've seen A Million Ways to Die in the West, how did you feel it fared?

Sarah: Yes, I was really looking forward to this one. To say we're big fans is a bit of an understatement. Family Guy is pretty much quoted once a day, at least, in this house. 

Now that we've seen A Million Ways to Die in the West, I have to say, I'm a little let down. And here's why: it wasn't because of the jokes, those were gold, it was that we heard all of them in the trailers! There were some great set-ups for the jokes that we had already seen, but it was still a disappointment because we knew the punch-lines. What did you think?