28 August 2011

Review: The Help

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: movie, Review

I’ve mentioned a few times before that most book to movie adaptations suck. So when a book I feel very passionately about is adapted in to a movie, I immediately fear it will suck too. Sadly, that is usually the case. And when I heard The Help was being adapted, I was very nervous because I LOVED that book. But now the movie is out and I had to see for myself, and here’s what I thought.

Movie: The Help

Rating: PG-13

Release date: August 10, 2011

Everyday Adventures’ grade: A-

Summary: In 1960s Jackson, MS, it’s standard for homes to have African American maids, many of whom raise the kids from baby to adult and work for households for their entire life. At this time in Jackson, three women: Skeeter (Emma Stone), Abileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) form a bond to try and break stereotypes from this time.

My thoughts: For me, the only other movie I cried as hard at was Up. When I read the book, I cried/sobbed at one part, but seeing the entire book acted on screen, I cried several more times, to the point where I was wearing sunglasses for the rest of the day because my eyes were so red.

I did enjoy this movie. It’s been a while since I read the book but I thought it was a pretty accurate adaptation of it too. There were a few parts within each character’s story that were cut back for time, but I didn’t feel that something was missing.

I had some initial casting concerns but overall, everyone was VERY strong. Bryce Dallas Howard wasn’t the exact embodiment of Hilly I envisioned, but oh my god she was good. She was cold, cutting and awesome to watch. She took that character over and made her as unforgiving and cruel as in the book but without even batting an eye. Emma Stone as Skeeter was good too. I have a bit of a girl crush on Emma Stone anyhow and despite tragic hair (which I didn’t envision either), I thought she would have a bit more spit and fire in her. But her scenes with Allison Janney, talking about the maid who raised her, made me weep too. She can emotionally deliver and make the reaction believable. LOVE HER. I did have a hard time watching parts of the movie, but given that it’s a depiction of what race relations were like during that time, that’s to be expected.

Of the other major leads, Viola Davis stole the show. I definitely smell an Oscar or at least Golden Globe nomination for her. I had the same sense about Melissa Leo too and was right. The heart, emotion and pain she brings to the character of Abileen is really visible and makes you become more emotionally invested in her character. Knowing how her relationship with her current charge, Mae Mobley ends, ugh, cut me so deep. That’s when the convulsing sobs came in. But she brought Abileen to life and made it hard to take your eyes off her.

I only had one drawback to the movie, which is difficult to articulate. I just felt like something was…missing. I loved that book, could not stop reading and didn’t want to, but when I watched the movie, something just felt off. I really think it’s that the transition from book to movie, you inevitably lose something, so that has to be it.

Verdict: If you read the book, see it or rent it. It’s worth it. But if you haven’t seen it, read the book first. Always!

08 August 2011

Review: Friends with Benefits

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: movie, Review

After seeing and liking the Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman movie No Strings Attached, I was not super excited to see this one. Why pay to see the same movie or variation of a movie twice. But call it clever marketing but this movie was blanketed all over LA billboards and suddenly I found myself seeing it. Damn you advertising.

Movie: Friends With Benefits

Rating: R

Release date: July 22, 2011

Everyday Adventures’ grade: B+

Summary: Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a sassy NY headhunter looking to score an art director at GQ (OMG LOVE THAT MAGAZINE), who happens to be Dylan (JT). Dylan moves to NY, he and Jamie become friends, but after awhile, both want a benefits only relationship, which is good because they’re both pretty emotionally and romantically damaged. That plan to be friends with benefits goes awry (as if we expected anything else.)

My thoughts: Considering I already saw a movie similar to this in fall (cough No Strings Attached), I liked this much more than I thought I would. It was witty, sharp and well written. The dialogue and chemistry between JT and Mila is really fun to watch and they have a spark.

There is also a great supporting cast, unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of them. The cameos are great too (which I won’t ruin here). Patricia Clarkson is great as Mila’s mom and Woody Harrelson is pretty funny as JT’s gay coworker. The disappointing thing is that we don’t get to see much of them or get any real insight in to who they are, they’re existing in the story only on the surface and that’s it. Don’t get more invested. Okayyyy.

While I’m picking at holes in the script, I will say that there is a tease or set up multiple times during the family and past relationship issues that seem to keep both from being happy but that never really goes anywhere. So way to set it up and leave a girl hanging. Hello how can I deal with my issues? Anyhow, the heart in this movie with the dynamic between JT and Mila and they deliver. Let’s hope JT gets back to music but these two kids can find another project together. I’d watch that.

Verdict: If you hated No Strings Attached, you might not like this. So be safe and rent it. The spark and wit between JT and Mila is worth it.

02 August 2011

Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: movie, Review

Now that summer is sadly coming to a close, the “hey we have to hurry and release this” movies are starting to come out. Not all are like this but let’s be honest, the August movies are not usually the best, because if they were, they would have been released earlier in the summer. Well, The Help is coming out soon and I have high hopes for that, but one movie I had my eye on for a while was Crazy, Stupid, Love. So I rushed to the theater this weekend to check it out.

Movie: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Rating: PG-13

Release date: July 29, 2011

Everyday Adventures’ grade: B

Summary: Cal and Emily (Steve Carell and Julianne Moore) are getting a divorce, pushing Cal to probably the hottest bar in suburban Los Angeles with only pretty people. One of those pretty people is Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who helps Cal get his manhood back while navigating his post-split waters. Then Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone) and his man-whore ways may be changing.

My thoughts: Oh my Gosling. Okay, yeah I’ll cop to it, 90% of the reason I wanted to see this was Ryan Gosling and his…abs. And by the sighs of pure joy and lust in my theater, I wasn’t the ONLY ONE. Separate from the abs of steel that made me want to wash some clothes, Ryan Gosling really killed it in this movie. He was charming, fun and drop dead sexy as Jacob, exactly who he needed to be. He was suave without being douchy (cough JT in Social Network) and, well whomever tailored those suits to fit him so well is the luckiest b*tch I know.

Moving on, I had really high expectations for this movie (separate from the abs) and is halfway delivered. The movie is broken up in to almost three small stories between Cal and Emily, Jacob and Cal, Jacob and Hannah and Cal’s kid and his babysitter. The stories I found the most interesting were Cal and Jacob and Hannah and Jacob. The Cal and Emily storyline was a little…much. It started with Emily cheating and morphed in to something bigger and a bigger, more mythical story about soulmates. Sounds too much like Dawson’s Creek in their mid-life crisis. Julianne Moore and Steve Carell didn’t have the chemistry he did with Tina Fey in Date Night and you could tell.

Sadly, we didn’t get to see much of the Cal/Hannah dynamic either. Sure, Hannah was meant to show growth in Jacob’s character but with only one touching scene to set up his transformation it fell a little flat. But the chemistry between them was awesome. Really wish we got to see more of them together.

The super creepy storyline involved Cal’s son, who is madly in love with his babysitter, who happens to be in love with Cal. Huh, awkward. Add a little attempted sexting and inappropriate photos and you have a storyline that keeps happening on screen and wishing you could look away. Creepy.

But either way, there were some really funny parts, hot suits on Ryan Gosling and it reaffired my crush on Emma Stone. Seriously, that girl can do no wrong.

Verdict: Go see it, if nothing else, than for Ryan Gosling’s abs. That sh*t won’t look nearly as hot on the small screen. Ladies, treat yourself.

16 June 2011

Review: Midnight in Paris

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: movie, Review

As a film buff, it kills me to say that I’m NOT a huge Woody Allen fan, that is until a few years ago when I saw his 2005 movie Match Point with Scarlett Johanssen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. That is one of my favorite movies because it was perfectly acted and such a compelling script that it wiped out all stereotypes I had about Woody Allen’s movies. Sure, the follow ups, such as Cassandra’s Dream and Vicky Christina Barcelona haven’t been as strong for me, but after the buzz about Midnight in Paris, I was game to check it out. Let’s take a closer look.

Movie: Midnight in Paris

Rating: PG-13

Release date: May 20, 2011

Everyday Adventures’ grade: B

Summary: Americans Gil and Inez (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) are in Paris on a “freeloading vacation” with her family as he continues to work on his first book. Gil dreams of Paris in the 20s while Inez harps and then one night, he is magically transported back to 1920s Paris, where he gets to meet his writing idols and wonder if the grass is really greener in this idealized time.

My thoughts: This pains me a bit, but after hearing all of the buzz about this movie, I thought it would be a bit…better. I didn’t hate it but had a little higher expectations. First, the scenery is stunning. You see the main Paris sights but Allen also takes you to non descript places off the beaten path, which I love, and let’s you feel more like you’re with Gil, wandering the streets and seeing the subtle beauty others may miss. And I know the “time travel” element is a bit out there, but by the time Allen wraps it up in a little bow, I was already a little bored.

Owen Wilson does a great job in this movie as the California boy idealist Gil. He is really pitch perfect for this role but as the main character with lots of dialogue, wild gesturing and waxing poetic on the 20s, he gets to be a bit much. His idealism does start to make him seem naive, but he really starts to redeem himself after his revelation about his idealism. And Rachel McAdams is perfect yet insanely awful as a character to watch. She is harpy, rude, bitter and biting as his fiance and really, half of the movie I was almost hoping one of them would cheat so they wouldn’t get married. I mean, how these people are in love is truly difficult to believe.

The movie also has a strong supporting cast as Gil’s 1920s idols, including Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrian Brody as Dali and Marian Cotillard as Picasso’s mistress and object of Gil’s affection (thank goodness.) But all of these characters and actors are underused, basically as a cameo (as if to say, HEY! We got Adrian Brody and he’s Dali! Why not?), with the exception of a few. And the parade of literary and art masters from this time parade through but outside of a name dropping, the real purpose and impact they have for Gil is lacking.

But the redeeming part of this movie for me (minus the travel porn shots) is the theme Allen leads you to at the movie’s “climax,” which is, idolizing about another time or place is to help you ignore the trouble in your present and current situation. Once we finally hit that theme, the movie came together for me more and stopped to make me think, rather than just wonder what was going on in the movie.

I know, I feel like I should have liked this more. Maybe I’ll have to rent it again and see if it hits home for me more.

Verdict: If you’re a Woody Allen fan, see it, otherwise, you can pass. See Match Point instead!

12 June 2011

Review: Super 8

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: movie, Review

Summer is one of my favorite times to see movies. Why? I get free AC when it’s sweltering outside and this is usually prime movie release time so I have plenty of options to entertain me. And one summer release I was really looking forward to is Super 8 by one of my favorite director/producers, JJ Abrams. Ever since I saw a teaser trailer for this movie last year, I was hooked. Let’s take a closer look.

Movie: Super 8

Rating: PG-13

Release date: June 10, 2011

Everyday Adventures’ grade: A-

Summary: It’s 1979 (great year!) and four friends are making a horror movie on a Super 8 camera, until they happen to stumble upon a train derailment while shooting one night…and that derailment happens to set off a chain of events around a valuable piece of government property that escapes. You know, no big deal.

My thoughts: The best way to describe this movie is – E.T. meets Cloverfield meets War of the Worlds. Sounds random but considering its the brainchild collaboration of JJ Abrams and Spielberg, it is pretty accurate. And as a huge JJ Abrams fan, I had very high expectations for this. I like Abrams because he is smart at storytelling, direction and getting great, real performances out of non-big name stars (they’re just like us!) I am still a Spielberg fan too but my interest in him has waned a bit since his more recent projects focus more on childhood nostalgia and (at times) overly touchy feely moments that don’t always add to a story. I don’t dislike him, but he just isn’t speaking to me as much right now. So where I could have been lost in a movie centered around the late 1970s and both men’s nostaliga for Super 8 cameras, Abrams appeals to the current generation with action, smart dialogue and direction.

The only reason this got an A- as opposed to A is that one insanely hammy scene near the end just killed the momentum for me, so I had to take a few points off.

And let me say this, holy crap there were some intense scenes. I don’t want to give any spoilers or too much away about the “thing” that escapes from the government but I will say that TC and I both screamed at parts and hid behind our hands because the tension and action was that intense. Abrams has a great way of weaving in action and monsters without being too gorey or graphic and how they are integrated within the real-life actors does seem realistic and not too “green screened.”

Acting wise, the kids are the main stars of the show, sort of like a Goonies bunch, with lots of yelling and insulting each other but deep friendship underneath. The main character, Joe, is perfect as wide eyed kid who evolves from quiet and reserved to a leader in his group. After the recent death of his mother, the result of the train derailment allows his character to grow and evolve, which many of his friends don’t, but that’s not a big deal.

And as a massive “Friday Night Lights” fan, it was great to see my dreamboat Kyle Chandler (aka Coach Taylor) in a leading role too, although we don’t see as much of him as I’d like. But his quiet pain and conflict as Joe’s dad (and recent widower) is very reminiscent of the great and subtle work he did on FNL. Plus, in uniform, RAWR!

I loved Abrams movie Cloverfield and hope that after seeing this similar monster movie, more people will check it out.

Verdict: Go see it in theaters. Like Cloverfield, you will lose a lot when it’s on TV, but the story and action itself is totally worth it.

What did you see this weekend?