Abigail Breslin Weekend – Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Writer: Michael Arndt (Screenplay)

Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell

 

Plot: A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.


Tagline – A family on the verge of a breakdown

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Amazingly Charming Movie

 

Story: Little Miss Sunshine starts as we meet our family, motivational speaker Richard (Kinnear), hardworking mother Sheryl (Collette), depressed teenage son Dwayne (Dano) who has taken a vow of silence, hyperactive young daughter Olive (Breslin), veteran grandfather Edwin (Arkin) and Uncle Frank (Carell) who is fresh out of a hospital after a failed suicide attempt.

The six go on a road trip across America to enter Olive into the Little Miss Sunshine competition and along the way the family must deal with their own ups and downs to help their youngster member fulfil her dream.

 

Thoughts on Little Miss Sunshine

 

Characters – Olive is the youngest member of the family, cute but never going to be able to truly compete in the beauty contests, but this is her dream and the family will come together to help her achieve her dream. Richard is the father of the family, a motivational speaker who believes he has the next big catch for a book, he always encourages his family to believe they will succeed over just trying. Dwayne is the eldest son in the family, taking a vow of silence until he can become a jet pilot, he hates everyone with the only one he will help is Olive. Grandpa Edwin has been kicked out of a retirement home and living with the family, he swears and enjoys a drug or two. Sheryl is the mother of the family who will do anything for her kids which involves taking Olive across country for the contest. Frank is the suicidal genius brother of Sheryl, released under her care in case he tries it again, he sees the family for their flaws and even takes Dwayne under his wing on the journey.

PerformancesWe have six fantastic performances here, we had the established stars, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Alan Arkin shining and the star making performances from Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano and Steve Carell who was the it star of 2006.

StoryThe story follows a dysfunctional family that must travel across America to enter their youngest member to a beauty contest. We get the characters with their flaws that can be worked on through the film which gives us a natural feeling about the family. It does have the idea that family will need to come together no matter what gets in their way. This is a fun enjoyable story that can be enjoyed by everyone.

ComedyThe comedy here is delightful it hits on every level and does mostly come from real life moments.

SettingsThe road trip moments give us the idea of how far the family will go and we see this in the settings.


Scene of the Movie –
The dance routine.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The colour-blind test is fake because I am colour blind and I could see the test, when normally I haven’t been able to.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the greatest comedies of all time, it is just delightful on every account with wonderful performance from the whole cast.

 

Overall: Wonderful throughout.

Rating

 

 

 

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Elizabeth Banks Weekend – Invincible (2006)

Director: Ericson Core

Writer: Brad Gann (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Conway, Michael Rispoli

 

Plot: Based on the story of Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who overcame long odds to play for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in 1976.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Sports Movie

 

Story: Invincible starts as substitute teach Vince Papale (Wahlberg) is struggling to make ends meet in Philadelphia in 1976, the American football team is considered the worst in the league. When Vince losses his teaching job he only has the bar work to fall back on, but when coach Dick Vermeil (Kinnear) has an open day Vince takes a chance even at the edge of 30.

Vince gets called into the final pool of potential new signings but he struggles to make a name for himself and starts to even question if it is worth it, but coach Vermeil doesn’t want to give up on him yet and this soon becomes a success story for the Eagles.

 

Thoughts on Invincible

 

Characters/PerformanceVince Papale is the struggling man in Philadelphia, he struggles to make ends meet and enjoys a drink with his friends watching the football team, he gets a chance to play for his team becoming a media sensation. Coach Dick Vermeil has been struggling to keep his team together after another terrible season, he takes a chance on Vince one that goes against his whole coaching staffs. Janet is a new bartender that works with Vince that does become a love interest after certain things in their lives work out.

Performance wise, Mark Wahlberg is solid in the leading role, he doesn’t turn to his trademarks we know he is can turn to. Greg Kinnear is good in his role while Elizabeth Banks proves to be a good love interest through the film.

StoryThe story here does down as one of the great success stories in sport, it shows us that if you were to dream you could get a chance even at a later age but it is all about the effort you put into achieving your dreams. This is a slow moving story and unless you care about American Football you might not enjoy this on the levels you would if it was a sport you understand.

Biography/SportsSeeing how the people involved in this season shows us just how sport can inspire people, create legends and most importantly bring hope to the people struggling through life, the football scenes are shot nicely but as I don’t watch I am not sure how accurate they are.

SettingsThe film looks like it is set in the 70’s and the settings help us feel like we are part of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow sports drama that doesn’t click if you don’t follow American Football.

 

Overall: Simple sports drama.

Rating

 

 

Christmas Holiday Weekend – The Holiday (2006)

Director: Nancy Meyers

Writer: Nancy Meyers (Screenplay)

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell

 

Plot: Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Feel Good Christmas Film

 

Story: The Holiday starts as we see Iris (Winslet) a wedding columnist who is madly in love with a co-worker Jasper (Sewell) but discovers he is now engaged to a fellow co-worker destroying what she wanted in life. We move to LA where we meet Amanda (Diaz) who finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her.

Both women want to spend Christmas away from home and the stresses of their lives find themselves swapping homes for a couple of weeks. Both women find themselves like a fish out of water, with Amanda befriending Iris’ brother Graham (Law), while Iris meets composer Miles (Black) and her 90-year old neighbour Arthur (Wallach) who is just as lonely as she finds herself.

With the story unfolding the two women get to learn a new way of life they could never imagine and find themselves learning they could one day love again.

 

Thoughts on The Holiday

 

Characters/PerformanceAmanda is a movie trailer cutter who breaks up with her boyfriend and goes searching for a getaway from her life, she finds herself in England meeting Graham who shows her a new way of life. Iris is an English woman that has found herself trapped hoping that one day she will end up with one co-worker. She agrees to go on the house swap to LA where she meets a man whose getting older and feels forgotten by his work as well as a man in Miles who is going through the same problems is. Graham is a single father trying to balance any sort of relationship with a career and raising his children. Miles is a music composer for movies that offers friendship for Iris but connection on the levels,

Performance Wise, Diaz shows once again she is great for romantic comedies, with Winslet showing here that she can handle comedy, Law shows he is always good for this type of role and Jack Black steps up to go toe to toe with true A-listers.

StoryThe story is about love, how we these women go through a bad patch but will find a way to be stronger once they come through it. While it is all very much created to say there will always be a quick fix after a break up, we do get to experience the joy they go through. By the end of the film you will have said you enjoyed the journey we go through.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy isn’t too heavy but comes off when it needs to, with the romance side of the story tackling break ups, letting people go and most of all taking a chance on someone new.

SettingsThe settings are used well to show the different worlds both Amanda and Iris have come from and how they get used to the new lives they are living for two weeks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great Christmas film that gives us all hope when it comes to love even when we think we might have lost it all when it comes to hope.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Christmas film for all to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Director: Simon West

Writer: Jake Wade Wall (Screenplay) Steve Feke, Fred Walton (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy, Tessa Thmpson, Brian Geraghty, Cark Gregg

 

Plot: During a babysitting gig, a high-school student is harassed by an increasingly threatening prank caller.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Remake Failure

 

Story: When a Stranger Calls starts when High School student Jill (Belle) is being punished for going over her minutes on her phone bill must take a babysitting job in a house in the middle of nowhere. Jill is currently going through a break up with her boyfriend Bobby (Geraghty) and questioning her own friends Tiffany (Cassidy) and Scarlett (Thompson) on their part in it.

After a strange phone call, noises around the home and the alarm going off Jill starts to believe something is going on in the house, is she alone with the kids anymore?

 

Thoughts on When a Stranger Calls

 

Characters/PerformanceJill is the naughty high school student that has gone over her cell phone calls limit and must pay for it by babysitting, while also dealing with her boyfriend and best friend cheating on her. She doesn’t know how to make a good decision when a stranger starts calling her during the night of babysitting. The Stranger calling is interesting because we know he is capable of murder from the opening sequences, but now we learn to how calculated he is when picking his prey. Most of his damage is only explained and shown through facial expressions of the police investigating his crimes. Tiffany and Scarlett are just plain friends on the generic scale that we are used too.

Performance wise, Camille Belle has to do most of the work in this film and she does struggle in a role that has created countless amazing female leads, the rest of the cast are fine but don’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThis is a remake so we know the basics of how this film goes because it follows a babysitter needing to figure out who a mystery call is only to learn the truth and need to fight to survive. We have a couple of addition to the idea here because we need to explain the cell phone situation through the film but otherwise the film is filled with too many false scares that don’t lead to much.

HorrorThe horror is just false jump scare after false jump scare which never comes to much, we have one sequence but otherwise it is mostly about how things could happen.

SettingsThe house is isolated which is the highlight of the film because we know how this character isn’t going to be able to have much help and the stranger can take his time stalking his victim.

Special EffectsThe effects are limited and are mostly used for use of lighting and a few stunts, which I think does work because we don’t need anything flashy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a remake that doesn’t use the potential and has already become outdated because of the technology that is used as the stumbling blocks.

 

Overall: Not all remakes work.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Writer: Sheldon Turner (Screenplay) Sheldon Turner, David J Schow (Story)

Starring: Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, R Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lee Tergesen

 

Plot: Before being sent to serve in Vietnam, two brothers and their girlfriends take one last road trip, but when they get into an accident, a terrifying experience will take them to a secluded house of horrors, with a chainsaw-wielding killer.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gore Over Substances

 

Story: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning starts as we learn more about the origin of Leatherface (Bryniarski), how he was a misunderstand young man with mental problems that loses his job at the slaughter house once it goes out of business. We learn how this becomes the turning point for his family. On the other side of the story we have Eric (Bomer) returning to the Vietnam war along with his brother Dean (Handley) who is reluctant to return. We also have their girlfriends Chrissie (Brewster) and Bailey (Baird) on a journey across America.

After an altercation with a robber, the friends find themselves targets of the Hewitt family as Uncle Charlie now pretending to be a Sheriff and Leatherface look to make sure they have enough food to survive, human flesh.

 

Thoughts on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

 

Characters/PerformanceChrissie is take her boyfriend across country to reenlist in the army. She ends up on her own most of this film as she searches for a way to save her friends, before we know she will be involved in the final chase. Dean is the younger brother of the two who doesn’t want to go to war but hasn’t told his brother until this trip. Eric is looking to return to war with his brother this time and is the one most likely to stand up against the evil.  Bailey is the other girlfriend, that is about as much of her character we get. Leatherface is still simple minded here with Uncle Hewitt being the major part of the bringing the victims to the home, we also learn his origin story as it is a twist in the last version.

Performance wise, Let’s all be honest here, the characters are written horrendously so most of the actors didn’t stand a chance of giving a good performance in this film.

StoryAn origin of Leatherface, did we need one, well we got one, so deal with it. The story is basically the same as the original just without interesting characters, any scares or tension. We have group of friends get captured must fight to survive against leatherface and his family. So here it is nothing new, nothing original.

Horror This is all about the gore, we get little to no shocks in this film and the iconic killer is reduced to subplot to a bigger picture of a family.

SettingsWe get the iconic house, sure but otherwise nothing of any note here in the settings.

Special EffectsThe gore and effects do work well for shock value but otherwise it just becomes about making them look good.

Final ThoughtsThis is one from the franchise that falls flat on its face, you get little tension through any scene and are left wondering why this got made.

 

Overall: Disappointing addition to a much loved franchise.

Rating